The Muslim Lawyers’ Association of Nigeria (MULAN) has expressed concerned over the attacks by Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), Afenifere, Ohaneze, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Middle Belt Group and their allies on the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad on his recent statement on Sharia.
Justice Muhammad had advocated for more sharia provisions in the constitution to accommodate some of the concerns of Muslims and the Shari’a law.
He spoke while declaring the 20th Annual Judges Conference open at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria Faculty of Law’s Moot Court.
MULAN in a statement signed by the National President, Prof. F. Adeleke and Secretary General, Ismail Alasa described the development as display of intolerance to legitimately expressed views of a person whose face and achievements they have never hidden their aversion for.
“Amazingly, CAN in its press release did express reservation as to the authenticity of the statement attributed to the CJN by stating that he might have been quoted out of context. Still, CAN went
ahead to lampoon the CJN based on a statement it entertained reservation about! In this scenario, does CAN wants to be taken seriously by discerning minds?
“The antecedent of CAN especially since the past two decades has shown it to be dominated by those who have scant regard for the rights, feelings and thoughts of Nigerian Muslims.
“It has turned itself from a Christian body to an amoral antagonistic group of people with a passionate hatred for Islam and Muslims. Any posture to the contrary is just pretense. The new mantra of CAN and for which it has enlisted its long list of jejune groups with laughable appellations seeking for relevance in order to get some crumbs from some donor institutions, is to oppose anything that has to do with Islam or has the support of Muslims no matter how laudable or beneficial it is to all Nigerians.
“It matters not to CAN if its opposition deprives a large chunk of Christians the benefit of such. A case in point is the Hijab struggle by the female Muslims and the willingness of CAN to directly and through its proxies frustrate the effort despite the fact that some of its members such as the Catholics do not encourage the nakedness of their female members in the public.
“To fuel their Islamophobia agenda, CAN and its proxies disingenuously turned the CJN’s statement around to fit their often repeated and worn-out narrative of an Islamization agenda which only exists in their imagination.
“Without prejudice to the foregoing, MULAN finds nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with the statement ascribed to the CJN. The statement was made in good faith and called for the doing of justice to the Nigerian Muslim who till today gets the short end of the stick in the country.
“We find nothing unsavory in advocating for an increase in the number of Justices of the Court of Appeal who are well grounded in Islamic Law given the fact thatthe number of Justices in that court was increased by an additional twenty. There is wisdom in asking that those who want to specialize in Islamic Law in the University should be taught in the Arabic language in which the primary source of the Law is written. This will enhance a proper grasp of the Law on their part and make them better practitioners unlike the present situation where a tertiary language – English – is used with its attendant deficiency.
“The fundamental rule of Shari’ah is that it does not apply to non-Muslims. In the various States where limited aspects of it is practiced, the Christians and other non-Muslims are not subjected to its application. This is despite the bogey that CAN and its proxies have tried to create in order to instill fear in the minds of members of the public. The Muslims are not members of CAN and they are agitating for Shari’ah to govern their affairs. They have a constitutional right under Section 38 of the Nigerian Constitution to manifest the practice and observance of Islamic religion and its teaching unencumbered. What is CAN’s business in how they elect to run their affairs?
“The hypocrisy of CAN and its proxies like HURIWA is brought out by the fact that Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has publicly declared that the State is a Christian State. He re-emphasized it a couple of days ago during thanksgiving. This is a flagrant violation of Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria which forbids any State from adopting a State religion. Neither CAN nor HURIWA nor their allies thought it fit to caution this highly unbecoming conduct of Governor Wike. After all he is serving their interest to make Nigeria remain a Christian State! However, they are ready to create a storm in a tea cup for a factually justifiable and valid statement said to have been made by the CJN because of their affliction with Islamophobia. Ordinarily, CAN is expected to be above the pedestrian display it has put up in this case. It is an association that ought to make the pursuit of justice its focus. Justice in its true sense is for all without any discrimination.
“We wish to appeal to CAN to rise beyond pettiness and leave politicians to play their game of intrigues. The leadership of CAN should be more concerned with uniting the different segments of our country and deploy its huge resources in the pursuit of justice for all Nigerians. In this regard, there will be no need to denigrate any other Nigerian or public officer as was done to the person of the CJN by CAN and its proxies in this instance.”