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The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) says the call for an amendment of the constitution to accommodate certain ‘peculiarities of Shari’a’ by Ibrahim Muhammad, chief justice of Nigeria(CJN), is reckless and insensitive.
In his speech at the 20th annual judges conference in Kano last Wednesday, Muhammad made a request that the language of instruction in Shari’a law at universities should be Arabic and not English.
In a statement issued Saturday, Samuel Kwamkur, national director of legal and public affairs, CAN, described the CJN’s statement as “the most reprehensible, reckless and insensitive statement (ever) made by a public officer, a jurist and the head of Nigeria’s judiciary”.
“CAN observes that the CJN has neither denied any of the reports attributed to him nor has he clarified it. No person or association has come out with a contrary opinion. We, therefore, regard it as a settled fact: the CJN did indeed say it. And much more, he meant it,” he said.
“He called for amendment to alter Nigeria’s current constitutional status to be religiously inclined – inclined towards one religion – Islam. Clearly, this looks like the path to making Islam a state religion.”
“Related cases are the heads of the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force who chose to cite specialised universities in their home areas using public funds. Perhaps, the CJN is reinforcing the same mentality, this time using religious self-indulgence.
“But then, we may pause and ask ourselves the following questions: are these actions by the military chiefs and the pronouncement of the CJN deliberately synchronised to promote regionalism and religious bias?
“Are we seeing the implementation of part of a much bigger plan to turn the country into one behemoth of a region and also one grand religion?”
“Is Nigeria about to witness the sure move toward becoming an Islamic state and the possibility of the country being forcibly transformed into a Shari’a state?
“Could all these be part of the motivation for calling for laws that could stifle any national debate or crush opinions that are branded as hate speech and for the regulation of the social media?
“Was the CJN already speaking on behalf of those who are conspiring to allow Islam to dominate and subjugate other faith? Was this agenda the reason Justice Walter Onnoghen was crudely and hastily removed and Justice Tanko hastily sworn in as the CJN?”
“If the less educated, those who are not enlightened, the mischievous and the politically extreme can tinker with such permutations, certainly not a man of the learning, age, experience, exposure and publicly centered personality as the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“Does his position speak positively of a man who can still be trusted to hold the judiciary together as belonging to one nation with one people of various opinions, religious convictions and political persuasions?”
The 1999 constitution prohibits the adoption of any religion by the state or the federal government as state religion though it makes provision for the creation of Shari’a courts — its application is limited to personal law.
The CJN was represented by Muhammad Danjuma, the Grand Khadi of Niger state, at the event.