Amid speculations that a Bill to introduce the criminal aspects of the Sharia legal system across the country has passed second reading in the House of Representatives, the Speaker, Hon Yakubu Dogara has said there is no such proposed law before any of the two chambers of the National Assembly.
He stated this while speaking at a reception organised for him and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), David Babachir Lawal, by the Northern Nigeria Christian Politicians held in Abuja yesterday.
The event, which attracted Christian politicians from the 19 Northern states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, was graced by Dairus Ishaku, David Umahi and Okezie Ikpeazu, governors of Taraba, Ebonyi and Abia states respectively amongst other dignitaries from various walks of life.
Dogara explained that what happened was that a member of the House sponsored a Bill which sought to include criminal aspects of Sharia in the constitution, noting that the bill was referred to the Special Adhoc Committee on the Review of the Constitution.
According to him, in line with the provisions of the rules of the House, bills bothering on constitutional amendment are referred to the Special Adhoc Committee on the Review of the Constitution, stating that it is only the committee that has the sole prerogative to introduce constitutional amendment bills in the House.
His words: “The proposal came in a way that a member wants some criminal aspect of Sharia to be enshrined in the Constitution. Now as a House, even if there is a proposal from this floor that we should embrace ecclesiastical law we are bound to consider it and by virtue of our rules once there is that kind of proposal we send it to the Committee.
“No individual member has the right to craft a bill that will lead to amendment of the constitution. Only the committee has the sole prerogative of drafting bill that will lead to constitutional amendment. I am not aware that the committee has presented such a bill to the Senate. In the House, that committee has not submitted any bill. That is where we are. It is not only totally misleading but also false to say that the National Assembly is seeking to introduce Sharia criminal law into the Constitution. There is no such bill.
“I want us to get this thing clear because it is a point of contention in the Christian community not only in the north but even in the south. I feel I have the duty as the Speaker to explain this even though I had previously explained it on the floor of the House.”
In a goodwill message at the event, the Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi, called on Christian politicians in the country to be courageous at all times. Besides, he urged them to remember that whatever position they occupy is a public trust that must not be abused.