Concerned Islamic scholars across the country have thrown their weights behind the suggestions of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Muhammad Tanko, calling for the improvement of the status of the Shari’ah law in Nigeria through the amendment of the relevant sections of the constitution.
The Muslim leaders berated the outcry that followed the suggestion and emphasised for the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) that Sharia law does not necessarily mean Islamisation of Nigeria, as wrongly insinuated.
Former Executive Secretary, Muslim Ummah of southwest Nigeria (MUSWEN) and Retired Prof. of Islamic Studies, University of Ibadan, Prof. Dawud Noibi, said: “Section 38 of the 1999 Constitution as ammended guarantees freedom of religion both in belief and in practice. The whole life of a Muslim is governed by the laws of his religion. Therefore, it is the duty of the nation to provide for a judicial system whereby the relevant laws are interpreted correctly and disputes among adherents arising from such laws are resolved peacefully,”
Besides, he noted that, “there are provisions in the constitution for the establishment of Shari’ah courts anywhere this is required in the country to cater to the needs of Muslim citizens. If HURIWA and CAN are not asking that these provisions be expunged from the constitution, why do they want to crucify the CJN for calling for the improvement of the Shari’ah as other laws in force in the country are open to improvement?
“In what way is the improvement of the application of the Shari’ah for Muslims in Nigeria offensive to non-Muslims? And in what way does it constitute a violation of the provision of Section 10 of the constitution which prohibits the adoption of a state religion by the State?
“Let them bear in mind that Muslims are aware of the fact the Saturday- Sunday weekend imposed on all of us by our Christian colonizers satisfies the religious needs of only Nigerian Christian’s. Yet, Muslims are not complaining. So, let non-Muslim citizens of Nigerian cultivate the spirit of “Live and let live”.
He however urged the National Assembly to take quick action on the suggestion to strengthen Sharia law and do the needful.
Director, MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola, supported the CJN, noting that the current constitution is a child of British colonial Christianisation of the country, which has failed to take into consideration the multi-religious.
He said: “The system we run in this country is not only alien to Muslim culture, it has marginalised the Muslim population. Our democracy is deceptive in as much as Muslims who form the largest segment of the population are not integrated into the system. Participatory democracy is the global best practice. But not in Nigeria.
“Nigeria’s democracy excludes the Muslims. Our weekends shut Muslims out. It is the entire monopoly of Christians. Saturday and Sunday are free but Friday is not. The Muslim girl-child goes to school with tears in her eyes because she must not enter the school with hijab on her head. There is no single Shariah Appeal Court in the entire South West and Muslims in that sub-region are subjected to Christian common law in all civil matters. Muslim marriages conducted inside mosques are not recognised but those held in churches are sacrosanct. This democracy is fraudulent.
“Christian women enjoy the monopoly of recruitment into the army, navy, police, civil defence, traffic wardens, immigrations, customs, etc but Muslim women cannot because those uniformed agencies will not recruit users of hijab. Yet Muslim police women and soldiers use hijab in Britain, United States, Ireland, etc. Female Muslim graduates therefore remain jobless and impoverished while their Christian counterparts smile to the banks.
“MURIC therefore embraces the CJN’s idea of the need for constitutional amendment. It is even belated. It is part of restructuring. We hope the restructuring camp will welcome the CJN’s idea because it is not going to be about Muslim demands alone but a comprehensive one. We call for objectivity in this matter. Those who always oppose anything which is likely to benefit Muslims are urged to consider this initiative with an open mind. Constitutional amendment has all the potentials to usher in peace and tranquillity if we approach it with sincerity,” he stated.