CATHOLIC Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has said that Sharia law must be scrapped from the 1999 Constitution to ensure peace in the country.
This was contained in a memorandum signed by CBCN President Augustine Akubeze and Secretary Camillus Umoh, submitted to the Senate Committee on Constitution Review (SCCR).
According to the bishops, Islam enjoyed a special status in the 1999 Constitution, while Christianity was not recognised.
“To ensure peace and unity of the nation, there must be an end to the practically established status that Islam enjoys in our Constitution.
“We note in this regard that while Islam is mentioned very many times in the Constitution, there is not a single mention of Christianity or any other religion in the Constitution. This should be redressed,” the Bishops saidC
CBCN noted that the 1999 Constitution provided Sharia Courts for Muslims, which was why a Christian could not be appointed as Khadi under the states’ laws or Grand Kadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal.
The Bishops’ Conference said with the provision of Sharia Law in the constitution, the Muslims ‘exclusively’ had a court regulating their affairs, but the same could not be said for the Christians, noting that it showed ‘a constitutionally backed gap of inequality and under-representation in the Nigerian judiciary.’
The CBCN said the enforcement of Sharia Laws with public funds amounted to those states adopting Islam as a religion.
“The establishment of Sharia Courts of Appeal in our Constitution is therefore inconsistent with Sections 10 and 38 of the 1999 Constitution. It amounts to the adoption of a state religion which Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution forbids and prohibits,” the memorandum read in part.
They noted that in reviewing the constitution, “all references to Sharia and any other discriminatory or divisive law(s) should be expunged from the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).”
In October 1999, a former governor of Zamfara State Ahmed Sani Yerima and some other northern governors, at the time, had pushed for the adoption of Sharia law in their states.
Currently, Zamfara, Kano, Sokoto, Katsina, Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kebbi, Yobe, Kaduna, Niger, Gombe States have adopted the Sharia Law.