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    Nigeria not an Islamic State, CAN Insists, demands removal of Sharia from 1999 constitution

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    The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has proposed to the National Assembly the complete removal of the recognition of Sharia law from the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

    Section 10 of the constitution forbids the adoption of any religion as state religion, but in other sections recognises the legitimacy of Sharia, an Islamic law practiced in northern Muslim-majority states.

    The law is frowned upon in many quarters due to its well-documented history of human rights abuses, and sometimes sabotage of economic activities such as the sale of alcohol.

    An ongoing exercise by the National Assembly to amend the constitution has invited numerous suggestions from the public, many of them revolving around gender equality, and devolution of power.

    In a presentation to the House of Representatives Special Committee on Constitution Review at the South West Zonal Public Hearing in Lagos on Tuesday, June 1, 2021, CAN said the sanctity of Section 10 must be upheld.

    Lagos CAN Chairman, Bishop Stephen Adegbite, said everyone can freely practice their religion without having it stipulated in the constitution.

    “For us to have the same government and judicial system, let those areas (that recognise Sharia law) be removed from our constitution,” he submitted.

    Adegbite reminded the lawmakers that Christians also have their own Canon law, but that there’s no demand for its constitutional recognition because of Nigeria’s diversity.

    The cleric said the country will become a more peaceful state for everyone with a God-fearing constitution.

    In its submission before the committee on Tuesday, CAN asked for amendments to the constitution to reflect gender equality, local government autonomy, state police and local government police, as well as judicial and electoral reforms.

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