The National Christian Elders’ Forum (NCEF) has argued since its inauguration in 2015, that the problem in Nigeria is the incursion of Sharia into our Democracy – Democracy versus “Invisible” Sharia. We drew attention to the statement of the Sultan of Sokoto (Sarkin Muslumi) of Nigeria who was alleged to have said in Harvard University that the Quran is his Constitution. He has, till now, not denied this statement. DOWNLOAD PDF
We need to look at our 1999 Constitution compare same with some tenets of Sharia such as supremacy of Islam, gender inequality, jihad (both conventional and stealth), to appreciate the truism that Democracy and Sharia are incompatible. This explains why the Islamic world refuses to endorse the UN Charter on Human Rights. Nigeria’s endorsement was through the British government when we were a British colony and adopted existing laws at independence. In fact, Nigeria became the first country in the world to include Human Rights in her Constitution. Thanks to Sir Henry Willink QC and three others who, in July 3o, 1958, based its recommendation on the fact that
“the whole structure of the proceedings leading to independence is based on the belief that Nigeria means to follow the road of liberal democracy and parliamentary government; to base parts of the structure on the opposite assumption is to invite governments to do their worst. But if that road is followed, votes will count and, in the last resort, it is the votes that will win fair treatment for minorities.” [Report of the Commission appointed to enquire into the fears of Minorities and the means of allaying them, pg. 89]
Sharia is one of the reasons why votes do not count and Democracy difficult to practice in Nigeria, such as right to vote without the corresponding right to be voted for.
On Fundamental Rights, Willink wrote:
“Although almost all the witnesses who came before us were insistent that nothing but a separate state could meet their problems, one group asked only for provision in the Constitution guaranteeing certain fundamental rights. These were the Christian bodies who appeared before us both in Lagos, on behalf of their organizations throughout Nigeria, and, again, in the Northern Region. Some other witnesses said they would welcome such provisions in the Constitution but were afraid that they would not be sufficient.
Provisions of this kind in the Constitution are difficult to enforce and sometimes difficult to interpret. Nevertheless, we think they should be inserted. Their presence defines beliefs widespread among democratic countries and provides a standard to which appeal may be made by those whose rights are infringed. A Government determined to abandon democratic courses will find ways of violating them but they are of great value in preventing a steady deterioration in standards of freedom and the unobtrusive encroachment of a Government on individual rights. We have therefore considered what provisions might suitably be inserted in the Constitution and have given particular attention to the Convention on Human Rights to which, we understand, Her Majesty’s Government has adhered on behalf of the Nigerian Government. Where the matter which we think needs expression has already been provided for in the Convention on Human Rights, we simply place below, the relevant provision in that Convention, but we do not necessarily recommend the exact wording of the Convention and it may be that constitutional lawyers will wish to draft in different terms.
We recommend that provision should be made in the Constitution for the following Fundamental Rights.” [Emphasis supplied] [Report of the Commission appointed to enquire into the fears of Minorities and the means of allaying them, pg. 97]
However, when President Buhari decided in the gathering of Common Law lawyers that Human Rights should be subject to security challenges created by jihadists – (Shekau said Boko Haram is on a jihad) in order to provide an excuse to downgrade Human Rights, constitutes stealth jihad on the part of the Presidency.
Fortunately, we have an educated civil populace and the fact that our founding fathers all agreed at independence in 1960, that Democracy will be the future of our country not Sharia. Sharia proponents have made Democracy very difficult to practice in Nigeria and have decided to qualify our Democracy with the word “nascent” Democracy, to make room for Sharia inspires provisos under the 1999 Constitution. Our Constitution (man-made law) is supreme in addition to being man-made law which gives us “life more abundantly” is preferable to other man-made laws or laws made in “heaven” for man, especially when we, Christians, know that
“Human society can be neither well-ordered nor prosperous unless it has some people invested with legitimate authority to preserve its institutions and to devote themselves as far as it necessary to work and care for the good of all. By ‘authority’, one means the quality by virtue of which persons or institutions make laws and give orders to men, and expect obedience from them. Every human community needs an authority to govern it. The foundation of such authority lies in human nature. It is necessary for the unity of the state. Its role is to ensure as far as possible the common good of the society. The authority required by the moral order derives from God: ‘Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore, he who resists the authorities, resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.’ The duty of obedience requires all to give due honor to authority, and to treat those who are charged to exercise it with respect, and, insofar as it is deserved, with gratitude and good-will. --- If authority belongs to the order established by God, ‘the choice of the political regime and the appointment of rulers are left to the free decision of the citizens. The diversity of political regimes is morally acceptable, provided they serve the legitimate good of the communities that adopt them. Regimes whose nature is contrary to the natural law, to the public order and to the fundamental rights of persons cannot achieve the common good of the nations on which they have been imposed.” [Emphasis supplied] [Catechism of the Catholic Church, Articles 1897 – 1901]
Nigerians must all continue to defend Democracy that has proved the best of all systems invented by human.
Bravo Democrats in Nigeria
Solomon Asemota, SAN
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