He spoke at a news conference on Nigeria's preparations for the Miss World pageant, which faces a boycott by a growing number of contestants over the stoning sentence handed a Nigerian woman in March.
An Islamic court in northern Nigeria condemned Amina Lawal, a 31-year-old single mother, for having sex outside marriage. A high court rejected Lawal's appeal in August. She has gone into hiding while awaiting a second appeal. ''There is no way the federal courts can sustain that judgment,'' Onyia said. He said he spoke as "a member of Cabinet."
Onyia said the government would not force Islamic court systems in a dozen predominantly Muslim northern states to change their laws. Instead, he said, the cases would be overturned individually in appeals before federal courts.