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A Sharia court in Nigeria

A test case for Buhari’s claims to be a “reconstructed democrat”

A Sharia court has sentenced nine people to death for insulting the Prophet Muhammad in Kano.

The head of Kano’s religious police (Hisbah), Aminu Ibrahim Daurawa told the BBC: “There has been consensus among Muslims scholars that insulting the prophet carries a death sentence.”

President Muhammadu Buhari said in 2001:

“I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria. God willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of the Sharia in the country. It is a legal responsibility which God has given us, within the context of one Nigeria, to continue to uphold the practice of Sharia wholeheartedly … and to educate non-Muslims that they have nothing to fear. What remains for Muslims in Nigeria is for them to redouble their efforts, educate Muslims on the need to promote the full implementation of Sharia law.”

The Nigerian Constitution, that Buhari took an oath to uphold when he became president, states that:
“neither the Government of the Federation nor of a state shall adopt any religion as State Religion,” and “neither the legislative power nor the executive power may in any way be used to aid, advance, foster, promote or sponsor religion.”

Sharia law is recognised in the constitution but for settling personal and religious matters b/w Muslims. It is no different from customary courts.

The Constitution states:

(1) The Sharia Court of Appeal shall, in addition to such other jurisdiction as may be conferred upon it by an Act of the National Assembly, exercise such appellate and supervisory jurisdiction in civil proceedings involving questions of Islamic personal law.

(2) For the purpose of subsection (1) of this section, the Sharia Court of Appeal shall be competent to decide –

(a) any question of Islamic personal law regarding a marriage concluded in accordance with that law, including a question relating to the validity or dissolution of such a marriage or a question that depends on such a marriage and relating to family relationship or the guardianship of an infant;

(b) where all the parties to the proceeding are Muslims, any question of Islamic personal law regarding a marriage, including the validity or dissolution of that marriage, or regarding family relationship, a foundling or the guardianship of an infant;

(c) any question of Islamic personal law regarding a wakf, gift, will or succession where the endower, donor, testator or deceased person is a Muslim;

(d) any question of Islamic personal law regarding an infant, prodigal or person of unsound mind who is a Muslim or the maintenance or the guardianship of a Muslim who is physically or mentally infirm; or

(e) where all the parties to the proceedings, being Muslims, have requested the court that hears the case in the first instance to determine that case in accordance with Islamic personal law, any other question.

It goes on to state:

(1) The sharia Court of Appeal of a State shall, in addition to such other jurisdiction as may be conferred upon it by the law of the State, exercise such appellate and supervisory jurisdiction in civil proceedings involving questions of Islamic personal Law which the court is competent to decide in accordance with the provisions of subsection (2) of this section.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1) of this section, the sharia Court of Appeal shall be competent to decide –

(a) any question of Islamic personal Law regarding a marriage concluded in accordance with that Law, including a question relating to the validity or dissolution of such a marriage or a question that depends on such a marriage and relating to family relationship or the guardianship of an infant;

(b) where all the parties to the proceedings are muslims, any question of Islamic personal Law regarding a marriage, including the validity or dissolution of that marriage, or regarding family relationship, a founding or the guarding of an infant;

(c) any question of Islamic personal Law regarding a wakf, gift, will or succession where the endower, donor, testator or deceased person is a muslim;

(d) any question of Islamic personal Law regarding an infant, prodigal or person of unsound mind who is a muslim or the maintenance or the guardianship of a muslim who is physically or mentally infirm; or

(e) where all the parties to the proceedings, being muslims, have requested the court that hears the case in the first instance to determine that case in accordance with Islamic personal law, any other question.

So it is quite clear that there is no provision for sentencing to death because of “blasphemy”.

The Nigerian Constitution states:

This Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on the authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

So the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and above any other law.

The Constitution also states:

Every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria.

There is nothing in Nigerian law that makes “blasphemy” a criminal offence.

The Constitution also states:

Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

And:

Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.

If these nine people are harmed or killed, it would be a violation of their constitutional rights and those responsible should be charged with murder.

The president, who swore to uphold the Constitution and protect Nigerians, should step in and stop these people from bringing our country to disrepute.

This is his chance to demonstrate his commitment to constitutional rule.

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