PLANS by Christians to introduce a bill for Ecclesiastical Courts across the country has been rejected by the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) who have described it as recipe for anarchy.
Since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, 10 of her predominantly Muslim northern states have introduced the strict Islamic Sharia legal code that includes the Sharia court. In response, Christians now want to counter this with their own courts and a bill for ecclesiastical Christian courts is currently being drafted.
However, the NSCIA has warned that the move should be stopped and has threatened that it would demand that Wednesday should be declared a work-free day in Nigeria, if Christians continue to insist on ecclesiastical courts. NSCIA general secretary Professor Ishaq Oloyede, said no informed Christian would agitate for ecclesiastical courts because Muslims had Shariah courts.
The proposed bill for a Christian Court sponsored by Hon Gyang Dung (PDP) from Plateau State and eight other members of the House of Representatives had scaled the second reading. According to Hon Dung, the courts would complement the regular courts especially with matters relating to the tenets of the Christian faith, when established.
He, however, stated that it adjudicate in cases between individuals and groups that yield and submit to its jurisdiction. However, Professor Oloyede said the demand for Christian courts amounted to the height of intolerance because Christians enjoyed Sunday as a sabbath day, while the cross was the sign of the hospital and yet Muslims are not complaining.
Professor Oloyede said: “To me, the demand for Christian courts is not in the interest of the nation. I believe that if because somebody has something, then another person must have it, then Muslims can also ask for Wednesday and not Sunday as a public holiday.
“If you hate Muslims because they have Shariah courts, then they can also hate you because you have Sunday and there will be no end to it. People can also demand that they don’t want a Sabbath Day but Muslims don’t have the Sabbath Day because they believe that it is Christianity that believes in Sabbath Day and that is why they conceded to Saturday and Sunday.”
He added that if Christians say whatever Muslims want, they will be antagonistic to it, then what it means is that Muslims can stand up and say they do not want Saturday and Sunday as work-free days. Professor Oloyede described the stance of those sponsoring the bill as that of intolerance.
“What has brought this country together is that our forefathers had been very considerate and sensitive but we now have some hot-headed people who think that others are fools. I think those people should be cautioned, not to create a situation that will lead to anarchy.
“If you start this intolerance, at the end of the day, every group will discover that it does not pay and is not in their own interest to create such a situation. Muslims also have the right to demand for all the things which they also believe that are Christian vestiges, as for instance, if you go to any government hospital, the cross is a sign in Nigeria and we are not complaining.
“Even in Sokoto, the seat of the caliphate, the cross is the sign of the hospital and Muslims are not complaining because it is give and take. But by the time we start to exhibit such intolerance, other people will have the right to make their own demands and that will take the country to nowhere,” Professor Oloyede added.