Following measures to review the 1999 constitution, it has been reported that the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), has told the National Assembly to remove all references to Sharia Islamic law from the 1999 Constitution.
The organisation also asked the lawmakers to project the secularity of Nigeria pursuant to Sections 10 and 38 of the constitution as no other religion was recognised by the law of the country except Islam.
CBCN reportedly disclosed this in its memorandum presented to the Senate Committee on Constitution Review obtained by journalists in Abuja on Thursday.
The document signed by its President, Archbishop Augustine Akubeze; and Secretary, Bishop Camillus Umoh, stated that, “The 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a product of and an imposition of the military.”
The statement read that “Bearing this in mind, therefore, the particular aspect we want to address for this review of the 1999 constitution has to do with the place Islam as a religion has assumed in our constitution vis-à-vis our national life, to the extent that the 1999 constitution has put Christians and adherents of other religions at a disadvantage in any place with a Muslim majority.”
It also stated that, “The framers of the 1999 constitution created Sharia Courts for Muslims. This explains why a Christian cannot be appointed as Kadi under the laws of the States or Grand Kadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal.”
CBCN stated that “Thus, we conclude that while Muslims exclusively have a court that regulates their affairs and to which they can exclusively be appointed as Judges, the same cannot be said for the Christians, or people of other religions. This shows a constitutionally backed gap of inequality and under-representation in the Nigerian judiciary.”
The Bishops added that, ” that the enforcement of Sharia laws with public funds amounted to those states adopting Islam as a religion. We submit that adopting sharia law(s) as a state laws(s) amounts to adopting the religion founding those laws as state religion; and this violates Section 10 of the 1999 constitution.”
“To correct this, 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),” the statement disclosed.