The National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations (NACOMYO) has called for the establishment of Shari’a Court Appeal in Lagos State.
The group stated that the court should be made mandatory for any state in the Federation that has at least 100 Muslims living within the state. Accordingly, Section 275 of the Constitution should be amended to reflect this proposal.
The groups made the call at a press conference, in Lagos, stating that the basis for the clamour is because Muslims in Lagos State has not been able to have the backing of Shari’a in the administration of their personal law as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.
The State Coordinator, Alhaji Isiaka Salami said, the position of NACOMYO on this issue is contained in the Council’s Memorandum to the House Committee on the Review of the Constitution.
“Though Section 275 of the Constitution provides for the establishment of a Shari’a Court of Appeal for any State that requires it, its non-implementation over the years has placed a sort of hardship on Muslims living in states that have refused and neglected to establish Shari’a Court, in the sense that the administration of a Muslim’s personal law (relating to marriage, divorce, bequests and the likes) that are within the exclusive knowledge of Islamic scholars are been taken to the regular customary courts manned (in most cases) by those not knowledgeable in Islamic personal law.
“It has never occurred in man’s history that he can give what he does not have. No matter how sincere the efforts of those who are manning the Customary Courts without basic knowledge in Islamic law, they cannot effectively adjudicate on Islamic law. Simply put, they are bereft of the position of Islam on matters pertaining to Islamic personal law.”
He added that the group’s extensive engagements across the country show that Muslims should feel a sense of belonging wherever they may be.
According to him, not only Muslims living in the Northern part of the country should be able to have matters pertaining to their personal lives adjudicated upon by knowledgeable Islamic scholars. “This is a great way of proper integration of citizens of this country, and religious tolerance among adherents of different religions.”
Salami noted that the Shari’a law and courts either with civil or criminal jurisdictions are not meant for non-Muslims and not even for Muslims who are not willing to take their matters to the Court.
“This has been the established practice of the Holy Prophet Muhammed (May the peace and blessing of Allah be on him). So, in conclusion, Shari’a Court is not to force Shari’a law on non-Muslims.
“We are not unmindful of the position of antagonists of the call for the establishment of Shari’a Court with their persistent reference to Nigeria as a secular State. Section 10 of the Constitution has been over-flogged by the antagonists of Shari’a.
“But it is our position that the application of Christian family and personal law fit into the present Nigerian Judicial system. We ask rhetorically, where do Muslims go to if there is any dispute arising from marriages conducted in the mosque or relating to the administration of the estate of a deceased Muslim? We answer in unambiguous term that the present customary courts in Lagos State as presently manned by Non-Muslims and Muslims who are not Islamic Scholars cannot adequately adjudicate on Islamic personal law.”
State Public Relations Officer, Idris Opere, lamented the level of insecurity in the country. “While the government is making an effort to stamp out Boko Haram insurgency from the country, the issue of kidnapping, banditry, cultism and criminality are growing by the day. The security situation seems to have turned Janus-headed and overwhelming, which requires all hands to be on deck.”
He added that the Council condemns all calls to nihilism and secession and also calls on the government to be more responsive and decisive, as it has recently promised.
“The complexity in our clime presupposes that the security architecture in the country should be strengthened. While the constitution should be amended to incorporate this, in the meantime, we advise that other states and private individuals should emulate Lagos on the security infrastructure it continues to provide for the security personnel through the State Security Trust Fund.
“Rather than getting engaged in the blame game, NACOMYO assures that when we all cooperate and do our bit as individuals, philanthropists and as government, there will be significant improvement in the security situation in the country.”
By Shakirah Adunola