18 January 2003

Nigeria: We Have No Problem With Sharia in Borno - Bishop Mani


Archbishop Kana Mani is the new arch-bishop of Jos province. The Jos province covers Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Adamawa, Taraba, Bauchi, Plateau and Benue states. His Grace, Archbishop Mani, is also the Bishop of Maiduguri, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion and former Borno State CAN boss.

He spoke to Weekly Trust on his perception of Sharia, as it is being implemented in the Northern part of the country and declared that the Christian community in Borno has no problem with Sharia. Excerpts:-

WT: What is your perception of Sharia implementation in Nigeria generally, considering the fact that the protagonists' main agenda as they claim is to rid the society of social vices?

Mani: Well, the state that started the Sharia (Zamfara), let people go there and evaluate whether before and after the introduction of Sharia, moral life has changed.

I was a military chaplain in Gusau, the Zamfara State capital, between 1982 and 1984, and I've been passing through the place and I know what it is. I don't think it is a very correct statement to say they (Zamfara State government) have succeeded.

Their intention may be correct, but it is difficult to legislate righteousness other than what is in the Holy Qur'an and Holy Bible. We have enough rules and regulations to govern us throughout our lives, as Christians and Muslims, so I've no quarrel with that (Sharia).

If the Christians feel that they want to do anything to enhance the practice of their religion, all fine and good. But they (Christians) should not trample on the rights of non-Christians in doing that nor should Muslims trample on the rights of non-Muslims.

Nigeria is for us all. Therefore, as we march towards 2003, let us resolve to live together as brothers and sisters, so as to let Nigeria be. Because that is what will make us to be great, to lead the African continent, as we have all it takes to be great. So that is my own perception.

WT: How would you describe the implementation in Borno State?

Mani: Well, as far as we are concerned here in Borno State, the Christian community's rights have not been trampled upon. Moreso, it was generally believed that Sharia was for Muslims alone. It is not for non-Muslims.

Borno is a home of peace, because the people love non-indigenes. And you know that an average Kanuri man is a peaceful man.

But one thing that has been responsible for the peaceful co-existence is awareness on the part of the adherents of the two religions, and also the peaceful nature of the Shehu of Borno, and even the governor, including the elders and other traditional rulers have also contributed to the peaceful co-existence.

So for now, the Christians (in Borno) have nothing to complain about Sharia implementation in Borno State. And if it will continue in this manner, certainly, we will continue to live in peace and move the state forward.

WT: Finally, you will agree with me that Sharia implementation in Borno State is in stages. We have gone through the first phase, which is prohibition of prostitution, abolition of sales and consumption of alcohol among others. Some people are however feeling that by the time we get into phase two, which covers the criminal aspects, there are likely to be frictions between the adherents of the two religions. Do you share this view?

Mani: Well, to that, I will say let us reach the bridge before we cross it. Time will tell. but I believe we will continue to live in peace in Borno, because without peace, there will be no development, progress or harmony. Also, there will be no planning, no execution. Personally, I am happy that I'm in Borno State.

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