Nigeria's Chief Justice Wants More Shari'a in Constitution

13 December 2019

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Muhammad, has called for the amendment of the constitution to accommodate more aspects of the Shari'a law.

Mr Muhammad said this on Thursday at the 20th Annual Judges Conference that held at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

The theme of the two-day conference was 'Documentation of Contracts in Islamic Law: Procedure, Sample Precedents and Practice.

Justice Muhammad, in his address read by Justice Muhammad Danjuma, Grand Khadi of Niger State, urged academics to champion the cause of redesigning the methods of teaching Shari'a law.

He 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," he said.

"However, we have the number to emend the constitution to suit our own position as Muslims," Mr Muhammad said.

The CJN also highlighted the importance of the Shari'a legal system to the legal profession, saying 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," he said.

Mr Muhammad's call for a constitutional amendment for an apparently religious reason is bound to stir controversy.

As the head of the Supreme Court, the CJN also heads the nation's judiciary. Some Nigerians on social media have described Mr Muhammad's suggestion of an amendment influenced by religious demography as "sectional".

"The Supreme Court is supposed to be made up of eminent jurors who are patriotic and not partisan, but unfortunately their decision reflected (in) CJN Tanko Muhammad's idea of Sharia in a secular democracy," wrote Nwaogu Paul, a Twitter user.

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