Sharia Criminal Law and State Secularity Principle in Nigeria: Implications of Section 10 of 1999 Constitution (as Amended)

Ikenga K. E. Oraegbunam


This paper analyses the problem of the application of Islamic criminal law in Nigeria. Though Nigeria is constitutionally a secular state, Islamic religion more than any other seeks to cast a no mean shadow on the governance of the country. In a proselytist posture, Islam vows to dip the Koran in the Atlantic. From the fight over constitutional establishment of Sharia Court of Appeal in the late 1970s, through the heydays of OIC (organization of Islamic Conference) controversies in the 1980s, to the tension over Islamic banking and jurisdictional matters in relation to judicial authority of Sharia courts recently, Islamic praxis in Nigeria had really generated some national heat. It is needless to mention the faceless agitations of the members of Boko Haram sect by which mayhem had been unleashed on thousands of innocent lives and property. One question however remains salient. Are all these religious-oriented struggles in tandem with the features of state secularity principle provided for in Nigerian Constitution? Is secularity a liability rather than an asset in the socio-political processes of the Nigerian multi-religious state? This paper seeks to address just one of these scenarios, namely, the adoption of Sharia criminal law in much of Northern Nigeria today, and juxtapose it with the implications it has on the principle of state secularity and democracy in Nigeria.

Keywords: Sharia, Criminal Law, State Secularity, Nigerian Constitution, Human Rights, Islam

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3240 ISSN (Online)2224-3259

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