The Islamization of Nigeria: Coalition of Christian groups accuse administration of Islamizing Nigeria 'through the backdoor'

A coalition of Christian groups in Nigeria is reportedly alleging that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is attempting to Islamize the country "through the backdoor." This is in relation to a proposed amendment to the 1999 Constitution that would expand the jurisdiction of the Sharia Court of Appeal to handle not just civil cases but also criminal matters.

Storm clouds gather over the Church of the Holy Trinity in Onitsha, Nigeria, in this April 14, 2005 file photo. | REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly

"The proposed amendment is a desecration of the sanctity of the FCT as a symbol of national unity, which should be preserved," said Solomon Asemota, spokesperson of the coalition and national president of the National Christian Elders Forum, as quoted by Daily Trust. "Nigeria's membership of religious organisations and associations, particularly the Organization of Islamic Cooperating Countries and the Coalition of Islamic Nations against ISIS, is insensitive, against our best national security interest and democratic and democratic norms."

Currently, Section 262 (1) of the 1999 constitution reads: "The Sharia Court of Appeal shall ... exercise such appellate and supervisory jurisdiction in civil proceedings involving questions of Islamic personal law." Lawmaker Abdullahi Salame, the author of the bill, said earlier that they are proposing to add the words "and criminal" to this section and Section 272.

"With the passage of this bill, no Muslim will ever attempt even to harm, much less, kill non-Muslims, because you know Sharia can attend to criminal cases and you will be dealt with," Salame said, according to Premium Times. "And, in Islam, when you kill a non-Muslim, you will be killed. These Boko Haram and other groups that hide behind any little crisis to attack Christians and other non-Muslims would be easily punished."

Asemota, however, said that in order to maintain Nigeria's unity, faith, peace, and corporate progress, they are demanding that the Sharia law "be expunged from the constitution and Shariah-based public institutions, agencies and practices in the states should be abolished." Furthermore, they want the return of the state of affairs according to the Republican Constitution of 1963.

Apart from the NCEF, the coalition is composed of 13 other groups, namely: the Nigerian Christian Graduate Fellowship, Think Tank for the Body of Christ, the Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria, the Association of Christian Schools in Nigeria, the Students Christian Movement, the Christian Professionals Forum, Intercessors for Nigeria, the International Prophetic Ministerial Association, Intercessors Without Walls, Wailing Women International, Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship, Nigerian Fellowship of Christian Students, and the University Joint Campus Christian Fellowship.