16 June 2012

Nigeria: Federal High Court Declares Islamic Banking Illegal

A Federal High Court in Abuja declared the non-interest financial institution operating under the principles of Islamic jurisprudence as illegal and unconstitutional.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole held that had it not been that the plaintiff , Godwin Sunday Ogboji lacked the locus standi to institute this action, he would have nullified the licence issued to the Jaiz International Bank PLC to carry out Islamic banking in the country.

"There are no provisions in the CBN Act and the Banks provided for in the Banks and other financial institutions act (BOFIA) that empowers the CBN Governor SanusiLamidoSanusi to issue license for non-interest financial institution to operate under the principles of Islamic jurisprudence without the approval of the head of state through the minister of finance.

"Unlike other specialized banks, the Jaiz International Bank PLC can only be established in the country with the intervention of the National Assembly by amending the BOFI Act.

"If not that the plaintiff has no locus standi to maintain this action, I would have nullified the illegal license issued to the Jaiz International Bank PLC by the CBN to operate non-interest banking under the principles of Islamic jurisprudence.

"This case is hereby struck out for lack of locus standi, but the AGF should take steps to remedy the situation, and further ensure that the CBN carries out its duties within the provisions of the law establishing it".

But a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Abubakar Malami in his reaction to the court ruling said that Islamic banking is legal.

The successive Nigerian constitutions have always preserved the inalienable fundamental human right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Section 38 of the constitution gives the Nigerian muslims a very firm footing to demand for and establish Islamic banking.

It is indeed legal and inalienably bestowed by the constitution.

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