From Desmond Mgboh, Kano
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has presented a strong demand for the immediate establishment of Ecclesiastical Courts in Nigeria.
An Ecclesiastical court is a court where Christian Canon laws are applied and are an instrument of judicial administration in the same way as Islamic laws are an instrument of judicial administration in Sharia Courts.
The position of the Association was canvassed by the state chairman of the association, Reverend Adeolu Adeyemo, at the House of Representatives Public Hearings on the Review of the 1999 Constitution (As amended) taking place in Kano.
Adeyemo held that Christians in Nigeria are of the belief that Nigeria should remain a truly secular state as is clearly enshrined in Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution by expunging all the provisions pertaining to the Sharia court system.
He argued that in the case where that is not implemented, the proposed constitutional amendment should equally establish Ecclesiastical courts to balance the existence of Sharia Courts in Nigeria.
Highlights of the association’s other demands at the sitting which was chaired by Ado Alhassan Dogowa, House Majority Leader, included the introduction of a unitary system of government, regional government, decentralisation and regionalisation of law enforcement agencies and the recognition of traditional and religious leaders in the Constitution.
The association also sought the separation of the office of the Attorney General and that the Minister of Justice as well as financial autonomy and independence for the judiciary arm of government.
According to the CAN Chairman, ‘one area that the Constitution must quickly address with a view to save the country is to define in proper terms the issue of residency and indigene’s rights and to provide the instrument for its implementation, sanction for its abuse and immediate relief for whoever is a victim of a denial of these rights.’
The chairman also said that Christians in the state are committed to the equality of all Nigerians and all persons within Nigeria before the law even as he sought the protection of the rights of women, especially the rights of inheritance and education.