To protect Christians in Northern Nigeria and the nation in general, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has requested for the immediate establishment of Ecclesiastical Courts in Nigeria.
CAN’s chairman in Kano state, Reverend Adeolu Adeyemo made the request at the House of Representatives Public Hearings on the Review of the 1999 Constitution (As amended) taking place in Kano.
Bauchi state chapter of the association also demanded the establishment of ecclesiastical courts in the constitution while insisting that the provision for Sharia Courts and Sharia Commission without a corresponding Ecclesiastical Courts and Commission to attend to the yearnings of Christian citizens has served as a great marginalization and discrimination against Christians.
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.
Adeyemo stated 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.
Other demands of associations at the sitting which was chaired by House Majority Leader, Alasan Ado Doguwa, included the introduction of regional government, decentralization and regionalization 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 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.