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Catholic Bishops demands removal of Sharia Law from 1999 Constitution

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The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has asked the National Assembly to remove from the 1999 Constitution all references to Sharia Islamic Law.

This is just as the bishops urged the lawmakers to project the secularity of Nigeria pursuant to Sections 10 and 38 of the Constitution as no other religion is recognised by the supreme law of the country except Islam.

In memorandum presented to the Senate Committee on Constitution Review (SCCR) noted 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 signed by the CBCN President, Archbishop Augustine Akubeze, and the Secretary of CBCN, Bishop Camillus Umoh, said 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.

“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 framers of the 1999 Constitution created Sharia Courts for Muslims. This explains why a Christian cannot be appointed as Khadi under the laws of the states or Grand Kadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal.

“Thus, we conclude that while Muslims exclusively have a court that regulates their affairs and to which they can exclusively be appointed as judges, the same cannot be said for the Christians, or people of other religions. This shows a constitutionally backed gap of inequality and under-representation in the Nigerian judiciary

“The establishment of Sharia Courts of Appeal in our Constitution is therefore inconsistent with Sections 10 and 38 of the 1999 Constitution. It amounts to the adoption of a state religion which Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution forbids and prohibits.

“It translates to the adoption of Islam as a state religion. Of course, the enforcement of Sharia Laws with public funds amounts to those states adopting Islam as a religion. We submit that adopting sharia law(s) as a state law (s) amounts to adopting the religion founding those laws as the state religion; and this violates Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution.

“To ensure peace and unity of the nation, there must be an end to the practically established status that Islam enjoys in our 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 unity and fairness in this country, the Senate has to take seriously this stand of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria in response to its call for memoranda on the review of the 1999 Constitution; and has to see this Constitution review exercise as an opportunity to give a sincere listening ear to Nigerians to whom the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) later referred to as ‘The 1999 Constitution’ remains an imposition.

“Consequently, we, the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria, speaking in the name of the Catholic community in Nigeria, hereby submits that Nigerians do not have one law as one people in one nation.

“To correct this, all references to Sharia and any other discriminatory or divisive law(s) should be expunged from the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended),” the Memorandum reads.

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Another Lagos LGA chairman dies

Hon. Olufunmi Rafiu Olatunji, Chairman of Eti-Osa East Local Council Development Area in Lagos is dead

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Chairman of Eti-Osa East Local Council Development Area in Lagos Hon. Olufunmi Rafiu Olatunji is dead.

Olatunji died on Monday night.
It was gathered Olatunji had been battling with illness before his death.

He will be buried in accordance with Islamic rites today at his residence in Sangotedo, Ajah, Lagos.

Before his demise, he was seeking re-election on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

He emerged winner in the APC local government primary election with 1977 votes to become the party’s candidate in the forthcoming July 24th election.

Confirming his death, his Media Team on Tuesday morning in a Facebook post said: “With sorrow in our heart but in total submission to the will of Almighty Allah (S. W. T), we announce the passing, after a long battle with illness, our dear father, brother, friend, confidant, role model, Nation-builder, Hon. Olufunmi Rafiu Olatunji.

“He was until late night of Monday 21st June, 2021 the Executive Chairman of Eti-Osa East Local Council Development Area, Eti-Osa Local Government.

“He will be buried in accordance to Islamic rite by 9 am prompt at his residence in Sangotedo, Ajah, Lagos. We invite you to join us in paying the last respect to our beloved father, brother, friend and Boss.

“We are confident that Almighty Allah will grant him Al Jannah Firdaus.”

In a terse statement, chairman of Lagos Mainland Local Government, Hon. Mrs Omolola Essien expressed sadness over his sudden demise.

She said: “We commiserate with his family, friends, colleagues and staff of Eti-Osa Local Council development Area and pray against such unfortunate deaths in our fold.

“And On behalf of the good people of Lagos Mainland Local Government Areas, I want to express my heartfelt condolences to the Conference 57 Chairmen, his family and pray that The Good Lord grants the people he left behind the fortitude to bear the loss and make paradise his final abode.”

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Lagos Assembly passes LASIEC Amendment Bill

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The Lagos State House of Assembly has passed the State Independent Electoral Commission, LASIEC (Amendment) Bill, 2021 for passage into Law.

Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa on Monday, passed the bill Having gone through its first, second and third reading at the plenary.

Obasa stated that: “The Election process of the Local Government and LASIEC which has started with the Parties contesting for the position is possibly affecting the tenure of the existing LASIEC Officials and the State needs to be on the safe side, hence, the need to look at the laws and amend where necessary to protect the effort of the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission.

“The Intended Bill will empower the Governor to elongate the tenure of the officials of LASIEC and I think the six month proposed is too wide in this consideration because we need to be ahead in order to protect the State, so I proposed three month.”

The Chairman of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, Public Petitions and LASIEC, Victor Akande, stressed that the amendment being proposed was needed to ensure the Bill gets the necessary backing in order to stand the test of time.

Akande stated: “Only a singular fraction of the Bill is amended; the Bill also seeks to give the Governor the leverage to be able to use his power in case the tenure lapses. It is a good amendment in the right direction.”

Other members who made contributions, noted that the proposed amendment is a worthy one because the House and its democratic dispensation must ensure that it abides by the rule of Law.

The only addition is subsection 2 of the extant Law which provides for legislation that will necessitate the extension of the tenure of the Electoral Commission to perform it duties is however proposed to be amended since the Constitution states that no part of the people from the Commission shall administer themselves as democratically elected among the selection in the electoral process.

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DSS releases Kano singer detained for Blasphemy

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The Department of State Services (DSS) has released an Islamic singer, Ahmad Abdul, taking into custody after releasing a blasphemous song.

DailyTrust reports that Abdul was picked by the security agents for releasing the uncensored song titled ‘Barhama Gwaska’, perceived as blasphemous and capable of creating chaos in the state. The DSS had said it took the singer into protective custody to avert likely violent reactions against him from Kano residents.

While in detention, Abdul tendered an apology to the entire Muslim community, Kano state government, and Islamic scholars.

Confirming his release from custody today June 21, the Executive Secretary of Kano State Films and Video Censorship Board, Ismaila Na’abba Afakallah, said he had received hundreds of petitions against the song from concerned citizens. Afakallah said he reported the singer to the DSS which later arrested him at a hotel where he had been hiding for days to save him from the mob.

“He has been released as he regretted and apologised over his offence, promising not to repeat it” Afakallah said

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