Nigeria: CAN Knocks CJN Over Call for More Sharia Provisions in Constitution

13 December 2019

Abuja — The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has faulted the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, for advocating a constitution amendment to include more Shari'a content in the country's school curriculum, describing the call as ill-timed, provocative and unacceptable.

Muhammad on Wednesday had advocated the amendment of the constitution to accommodate some of the concerns of Muslims and the Shari'a law.

He spoke while declaring the 20th Annual Judges Conference open at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria Faculty of Law's Moot Court.

Speaking on the theme of the two-day conference, 'Documentation of Contracts in Islamic Law: Procedure, Sample Precedents and Practice,' organised by the Centre for Islamic Legal Studies (CILS) of the ABU in collaboration with National Judicial Institute (NJI), Abuja, Justice Muhammad also urged academics to champion the cause of redesigning the methods of teaching Shari'a law.

The CJN, who was represented by the Grand Khadi of Niger State, Justice Muhammad Danjuma, said the implementation of his suggestions would be more feasible if universities give the Shari'a law its own faculty.

"As we all know, there are sections of the constitution that allow the implementation of Shari'a personal law and apart from that, we cannot do more. However, we have the number to amend the constitution to suit our own position as Muslims," he said.

Muhammad had also advocated increase of judges who were learned in Shari'a to allow them to attend to Islamic law issues.

The CJN said in view of the importance of the Shari'a system to the legal profession, Shari'a law ought to be taught in Arabic language in Nigerian universities.

"The Shari'a law should be taught in Arabic not English. There is no university in Nigeria that runs Shari'a in Arabic; they all teach Shari'a in English. So, academicians let's also look into this issue," the CJN added.

But in a reaction, CAN described the call by the CJN as ill-timed, provocative and unacceptable.

The Special Assistant to CAN's President, Mr. Adebayo Ayodeji, told THISDAY yesterday that there were many challenges ranging from kidnappings, banditry and terror attacks facing the country that were begging for solution.

According to him, rather than dwell on needless controversy over such issues, attention should be given to efforts to make the country more peaceful.

He said: "We have not seen the full text of the paper presented and we learnt the Chief Justice was represented at the event. So, it is difficult to know if the speech was that of the Chief Justice or his representative. Be that as it may, asking for the constitutional amendment with a view to adding more to the Sharia contents is ill-timed, provocative and unacceptable.

"Today, there is a cloud of uncertainty over the country, occasioned by the menace of insecurity and alleged assault on the judiciary, to add the controversial Sharia to the list is very unfortunate.

"The proponents of the idea, whoever they may be, should bury the thought. Let us join the well-meaning Nigerians who are searching for the solution to the kidnappings, bandits and terror attacks if truly we want Nigeria to be peaceful."

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