FAITH umbrella body the Christian Association of Nigeria (Can) has asked the federal government to immediately establish ecclesiastical courts across the country to counterbalance the fact that Muslims have Sharia courts.
As far back as 1999, sharia courts began to emerge across Nigeria as 12 of the country’s 36 states adopted Sharia law in the north of the country. Highly controversial at the time, the measure was seen as an attempt to Islamise Nigeria and to allay such fears, it was made clear that the Sharia courts would have no jurisdictions over non-Muslims.
Speaking at the ongoing public hearings on the review of the 1999 constitution Reverend Adeolu Adeyemo, the chairman of Can’s Kano State chapter, said establishing Christian courts too can only be fair. He added that if Nigeria cannot remain secular as provided in the 1999 constitution, then there is an urgent need to equally establish ecclesiastical courts to balance the existence of Sharia courts in the country.
Similarly, the Bauchi State chapter of Can also demanded that the ecclesiastical courts must be included in the Nigerian constitution to attend to the yearnings of Nigerian Christians. It insisted that the Christians have been marginalised and discriminated against over the provision for Sharia court without them having their own.
Sharia law has been in existence in Nigeria since 1999, when then Zamfara State governor, Ahmad Sani Yerima began the push for it. Since then, the idea has spread and many Muslims take their disputes there.