By Sam Eyoboka
THE National Christian Elders Forum, NCEF, comprising of 27 Christians above 70 years, including Elder Solomon Asemota, SAN, as Chairman; Gen. Joshua Dongoyaro (retd); Gen. T.Y. Danjuma (retd); Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife; Dame Priscilla Kuye; Elder Shyngle Wigwe; and Gen. Zamani Lekwot (retd), says the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, is fuelling supremacy theory after the CJN called for amendment of Nigeria’s Constitution to accommodate more Sharia provisions.
In a piece titled: ‘Response to the CJN’s call for Constitutional Amendment and related matters,’ signed by Asemota, the Christian Elders group said it was not surprised at the call, but expressed disappointment.
NCEF had, in a July 31, 2019 document, analysed the state of the nation, tracing the root of the crisis in Nigeria to a conflict between democracy and Sharia ideology.
The July document said: “The problem of Nigeria is IDEOLOGICAL. It is simply DEMOCRACY versus SHARIA. This is the problem Nigerians need to solve. Nigeria is a democratic country under the invasion of Sharia ideology. This is the core problem that must be solved and every crisis will evaporate”.
The statement, which elicited the latest remarks by the NCEF, was reportedly made by the CJN while declaring open the 20th Annual Judges Conference at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria Faculty of Law’s Moot Court.
Muhammad, who was represented by Justice Muhammad Danjuma, Grand Khadi of Niger State, at the occasion, had been quoted as saying the implementation of his suggestions would be more feasible if universities give Sharia law its own faculty.
He said: “As we all know, there are Sections of the Constitution that allow the implementation of Sharia 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 also advocated for more judges to be learned in Sharia as this would allow them to attend to issues that have to do with Islamic law.
He added: “The Sharia law should be taught in Arabic, not English. There is no university in Nigeria that runs Sharia in Arabic; they all teach Sharia in English. So, academicians, let’s also look into this issue.”
NCEF, in its ‘Response to the CJN’s call for constitutional amendment and related matters’, said: “The statement from the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, as published in the news media, include: That the Constitution should be amended to accommodate more aspect of Sharia law; that academics should champion the issue of redesigning the methods of teaching Sharia law; that Sharia law should have its own faculty; that Muslims in Nigeria have the number to amend the Constitution to suit their position as Muslims, and Sharia should be taught in Arabic, not English.
“Apart from the fact that the CJN is the head of a country’s judiciary that is predominantly common law jurisdiction, the manner in which Sharia crept into its jurisdiction left much to be desired.
“Common law is the body of law derived from judicial decisions rather than from statute or Constitution while Sharia, on the other hand, is a system of laws rather than a codification of laws based on the Quran and other Islamic sources.
“Sharia cannot be amended to conform to changing human values and standards. Rather it is the absolute norm to which all human values and conduct must conform.
“That explains why the British colonial masters had to insist on repugnancy law, which means that Sharia and native law must conform with natural justices, equity and good science because the courts, during colonialism, would apply them.
“Islamic jihad, stealth and conventional, gender inequality, honor killing, etc, are not compatible with common law principles.
“The other issue in the CJN’s statement is that academics should re-design Sharia and that it be given a separate faculty independent of the main law faculty.
“That Sharia law should be taught in Arabic and not English – shows the supremacy of Islam. Common law principles now being enforced in Nigeria is considered inadequate by Islamists.
“To them, Nigeria must have two systems, one for Muslims and another for Nigerians to illustrate their superiority.
“On the question of teaching in Arabic, this also displays the weakness of black African Muslims – the Negroid, who believe that Islam demands that they should be Arabs, a mentality which Asian Muslims do not have.
“As Arab Negroid, they are superior to African Negro that made up Nigeria forgetting the fact that but for the Nigerian Negro, cities and facilities in North/Western and North/Eastern States would have remained pre-medieval as amalgamation provided the finance and knowledge for the development of all Nigerians including the Negroid states of the North.
“The last issue to be considered is whether the Muslim majority is sufficient to alter the Constitution.
“The statement by the CJN is nothing but taqiyya, an aspect of Islamic law that translates as ‘deceit or dissimulation’ particularly towards infidels.
“[Quran 3.28 and 16: n06] Taqiyya is practiced by main Muslims and it is prevalent in Islamic politics in modern era.
“The message of the CJN, therefore, is meant for Muslims to maintain two different messages – one for the faithful present at the lecture hall and the other to non-Muslim audience in the Supreme Court at Abuja.
“The conclusion to be drawn from the statement of the CJN is that the methods used, since the period of Othman Dan Fodio and the British after then was ‘majority’ with guns, is still applicable in today’s Nigeria.
“In 1908, there were 399 British officers in a protectorate of northern Nigeria with 300,000 square miles and over seven million populations [BBC Witness] with the British officers were in the majority.
“Since independence, the Negroid have managed to install Negros in positions of authority whether Christians or Muslims; because the Negroid controlled almost all the important positions in the three arms of government.
“The Negroid established two dominant political parties — APC and PDP — the CJN feels that it is time that Muslims’ ‘superiority’ in number should reflect in one Nigeria with two systems –—one Sharia and the other democracy.
“It is very clear that the CJN has reduced educated Negro Nigerians no matter how learned as inferior to Negroid with Islamic education.
“In a recent paper titled ‘Christians must not Destroy Democracy from Within,’ we concluded thus: ‘Christians must appreciate the danger which Islamism poses to ordinary Christians. And with the collaboration of some Christians especially those in authority, pastors, politicians and technocrats in that order, Christians in Nigeria have no chance of surviving the jihad of the Islamists and this makes advocacy not only necessary but also important and urgent, especially when Christians in Nigeria do not have a political party to protect democracy.
‘Christians in Nigeria are yearning for a rallying point and they look up to Christian organizations for leadership. And as has been shown herein, CSMN, which was established as the socio-political arm of the Church, is eminently qualified to play this role. ‘Once bitten, twice shy’, as a non-violent advocacy, is necessary and is appropriate in the circumstance.’
“From the above, the Islamist ‘majority’ in Nigeria will find out that they are in the minority as a result of better knowledge by the Negro Christians”.
‘CJN call is completely biased’
On its part, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in the 19 Northern States and Abuja condemned the CJN pro-Sharia call.
Rev Yakubu Pam, the Chairman of the CAN group, described Muhammad’s utterance as reckless, “completely biased” and unacceptable in the interest of national peace.
“The Chief Justice of Nigeria is completely biased in the sense that the position he holds is a position of honour and utmost respect, which should not promote any religion or sect above the other”, Pam said.
“The second aspect is that his position as CJN is to bring unity to the country. Whatever he does or whatever he says, he should be mindful of the red line and not go beyond things that unite the country.
“I told some people that the CJN is not being careful with his words. I think somebody represented him and read the speech on his behalf….if I were him, I would have come out and set the records straight.
“He should come out and correct what the person that represented him said. In the spirit of unity of the country, the issue of Sharia law caused some problems for us some few years back, even though he is talking about the Constitution.
“The Chief Justice should not be the one advocating for such a sensitive issue which threatened the very foundation of the nation.
“Instead, he should allow religious leaders to talk about such delicate issues. By his position as the chief law officer of nation, he is not for any religion or group of people or any section of the country. He is for the whole Nigeria.
“I pray that this is not his original position and, if it is, we will use every opportunity to correct him in the interest of peace in the country”.