The House of Representatives is already in possession of a bill that is seeking to introduce criminal Sharia law in the constitution making it applicable all over the country, Saturday Tribune can reveal.
The bill titled An Act to Alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and for related Matters sponsored by Hon Abdullahi Balarabe Salame, is seeking to introduce the criminal aspect of Sharia in the states of the country.
Former Zamfara State governor, Senator Ahmed Sani, in 1999, without recourse to the constitution which recognised the application of Sharia only in civil matters, kickstarted the introduction of criminal Sharia when he implemented the ruling of a Sharia court on a case of stealing and amputated the right wrist of the culprit.
The bill, introduced to the House, marked HB.16.04.530, which appears on page C1753 to 1755 of the National Assembly Journal No 22 of April 29, 2016, seeks to amend and in some cases repeal aspects of the 1999 Constitution to pave the way for implementation of Sharia in civil and criminal matters across the country.
It seeks to amend Sections 262(1) and delete Section 262(2) of the 1999 Constitution. It also seeks to alter Section 277(1) of the constitution, while seeking to delete Section 277 (2) of the constitution.
The bill indicated in its explanatory memorandum that it “seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 to increase the jurisdiction of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory and the Sharia Court of Appeal of a state by including criminal matters of hudud and qisas.”
Section 262(1) of the 1999 Constitution indicates that: “The Sharia Court of appeal shall in addition to such other jurisdiction as may be conferred upon it by an Act of the National Assembly, exercise such appellate and supervisory jurisdiction in civil proceedings involving questions of Islamic personal law.”
Section 262(2) of the constitution which the new bill is seeking to delete gives details of the jurisdictions of the Sharia Court as contained in subsections a,b,c,d and e.
The bill is also seeking to alter Sections 277(1) and also delete Section 277(2) which highlights the jurisdiction of the Sharia Court of Appeal in a state.
The sponsor, Honourable Abdullahi Balarabe Salame, is a former Speaker and former acting governor of Sokoto State.
He was acting governor between April 11 and May 28, 2008, when former governor Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko had his election annulled.
He has also served as treasurer of the 19-member Northern States Speakers’ Forum.
He is the member representing Gwadabawa/Illela Federal Constituency of Sokoto State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In 1999, former governor of Zamfara State, now a serving senator, Ahmad Sani, spearheaded the introduction of criminal aspect of Sharia in his state and was subsequently followed by some other states in the North.
By 2012, nine states had instituted full (criminal and civil) Sharia. They include: Zamfara, Kano, Sokoto, Katsina, Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kebbi and Yobe.
Three other states that institutionalised partial Sharia are Kaduna, Niger and Gombe.