Nigeria's government says sharia law in predominantly-Muslim northern states is unconstitutional and the strict Islamic legal code should be modified.
Justice Minister Kanu Agabi has sent a circular letter to Nigeria's northern states, calling on them to reform harsh sharia punishments that violate secular laws.
Mr. Agabi said the punishments are discriminatory, unconstitutional, and a threat to national unity.
Nigeria is facing international pressure over an Islamic court's sentencing of a woman (Safiya Husaini) to death by stoning for adultery. An Islamic appellate court in the northern state of Sokoto is to issue a ruling on the woman's appeal of the case on Monday.
Nigeria's President, Olusegun Obasanjo, who is a Christian, says he believes the sentence will be overturned.