Sharia in Nigeria Constitutions and Politics

By: Abdulmajeed Hassan Bello   Sylvester Udofia  

When Buhari became president in 2015, the Sharia, doubts linger about his Islamist agenda. The paper argues that, the Northern part of what is now referred to as Nigeria was more politically and administratively centralised than the independent kingdoms and autonomous communities in the south. The paper examines Socio-ethnic and religious configuration of Nigeria and the nature of Sharia debates in the Nigeria constitutions of 1977/1978; 1988/1989 debates and Constitutional Conference of 1994/1995. The paper argues that the genesis of the Sharia debates can be traced to 1956. The paper opines that, the mistake made by the constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) was designing a single constitutional document for the entire federation, ignoring the diversity of the country and imposed some uniform standards. The Constitutional Conference of 1994/95 was not bedeviled by serious acrimonious debate over the Sharia. However, 1999 constitution brought a new dimension to the issue of the Sharia. With comprehensive examination of the debates the findings revealed that Sharia should not be a problem, for its principle is absolute justice. The problem is political fortune-seekers. Thus there is a need for compromise that will save much time and energy, and help produce a swift transition of the Muslim societies to democracy and modernity. The paper concludes that the constitutionalization of the Sharia has subjected it to the vagaries of the political wind and made it an easy prey to political fortune-seekers. Thus, the matters relating to religions should be removed from the future deliberative process in the country.

Absolute Justice, Constitution
The Politics of Religion
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Abdulmajeed Hassan Bello

Senior Lecturer, Religious and Cultural Studies, University of Uyo, Nigeria, Nigeria
Akwa Ibom, Nigeria

Sylvester Udofia

Senior Lecturer, University of Uyo