Catholicbishops under the auspices of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) have called on the National Assembly to expunge from the 1999 Constitution all references to Sharia Islamic law.
The bishops also urged the lawmakers to project the secularity of Nigeria under Sections 10 and 38 of the Constitution as no other religion is recognised by the supreme law of the country except Islam.
This was contained in the copy of its memorandum presented to the Senate Committee on Constitution Review obtained by LEADERSHIP yesterday in Abuja.
CBCN also stated that there must be an end to the established status that Islam enjoys in the Constitution before Nigeria can have lasting peace and unity.
The memorandum, which was co-signed by the CBCN president, Archbishop Augustine Akubeze, and the secretary of CBCN, Bishop Camillus Umoh, maintained that the 1999 constitution was an imposition of the military, adding that it has put Christians and adherents of other religions at a disadvantage in any place with a Muslim majority.
The memo reads in part: “Regarding the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, we state in the first place that there was no time Nigerians convened as individual stakeholders or as represented citizens to decide on or give it to them as a binding law or constitution. The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a product of and an imposition of the military.
“Bearing this in mind, therefore, the particular aspect we want to address for this Review of the 1999 Constitution has to do with the place Islam as a religion has assumed in our Constitution vis-à-vis our national life, to the extent that the 1999 Constitution has put Christians and adherents of other religions at a disadvantage in any place with a Muslim majority.
“Complaints abound about the lack of adequate compliance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria against the establishment of any state religion, respect for the freedom of religion, including the right to freely change one’s religion, and equality of all religions before the law. In particular, there have been complaints about the special bias, recognition, and prominence accorded to Islam in the Constitution of this nation, Nigeria.”
The bishops also stated that the framers of the 1999 Constitution created Sharia Courts for Muslims, which explains why a Christian cannot be appointed as Kadi under the laws of the states or Grand Kadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal.
According to the Bishops, to ensure peace and unity of the nation, there must be an end to the practice established status that Islam enjoys in Nigeria’s Constitution.
“We note in this regard that while Islam is mentioned very many times in the Constitution, there is not a single mention of Christianity or any other religion in the Constitution. This should be redressed.
“For the sustenance of unity and fairness in this country, the Senate has to take seriously this stand,” they said.