The National Association of Catholic Lawyers (NACL), Lagos Archdiocese has kicked against a bill seeking to extend the jurisdiction of Sharia Law to include criminal matter.
The group said the bill, presently at the House of Representatives is unconstitutional and therefore should be jettisoned as it limits freedom.
Speaking at a press conference held at the Holy Cross Cathedral in Lagos, president of the association, Geraldine Wey said that the bill, which is sponsored by Abdullahi Salame from Sokoto State seeks to expand the Islamic legal system to all other parts of a secular Nigeria and will in its application, extend sharia to Christians and persons of other religions.
“It is our view that the earlier adoption of Sharia law in some Northern states clearly negates the provisions of sections 10 and 38 of the Nigerian constitution. Under Sharia law, issues like adultery, blasphemy and apostasy attract the death penalty and experience has shown that non-Muslims are liable to fall victims of these offences.
“The current bill according to its sponsor seeks to amend sections 262 and 277 of the constitution, which currently limits the jurisdiction of Sharia court of appeal Abuja and state high courts where Sharia law is practiced, to entertain only appeals in Islamic personal laws like marriage and succession, to now include power to determine appeals in criminal matters,” Wey explained.
She stressed that Abuja being the seat of power will be immensely affected if the amendment is effected since it is a neutral state for all Nigerians to live in, irrespective of their faith.
On issues of insecurity in the Northeast and reacting to the killing of Mrs. Bridget Agbahime in Kano on June 2, 2016 over allegation of blasphemy, the group is saddened by the turnout of justice and called for the reopening of the case which was dismissed by Chief magistrate Muhammed Jibril acting on the advised of the Attorney General of Kano state.