Nigeria: Churches Challenge Islamic Law

Christians plan to take shari'a to court.

Nigerian Christians are so disturbed that some northern Nigeria states have adopted Islam as the state religion that they have vowed to go to court. The Christians say their rights are being violated.The Christian Association of Nigeria plans to ask the Supreme Court of Nigeria to interpret church-state language in the nation's constitution. Lawyers will press Nigeria's attorney general and minister of justice, Chief Bola Ige, to clarify the legal role of Islamic law in the federal constitution, says Sunday Mbang, president of the association and prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria. Bishop Mike Okonkwo, president of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, says the initiative is necessary because of widespread violence between Muslims and Christians in northern Nigeria over Islamic law. Government officials told Christian leaders to go to court if they felt aggrieved about the adoption of Islamic law, Okonkwo says. In other nations, Islamic law has made Christians and non-Muslim religious groups second-class citizens. A former supreme court judge, Anthony Aniagolu, says the federal government has a legal right to challenge regional use of Islamic law. "Constitutionally, the state's interest overrides that of the constituent units," Aniagolu said. "The Zamfara [state] experiment [in adopting Islamic law] is totally unconstitutional."

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Christianity Today
Nigeria: Churches Challenge Islamic Law
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September 4, 2000

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