Islamic Criminal Law and Constitutionalism in Nigeria: Any Lessons from Turkey?

Ikenga K. E. Oraegbunam


Constitutionalism is generally marked by three essential features, namely, limited and accountable government, adherence to the rule of law, and protection of fundamental rights. Theoretically, these features are realized by strict adherence to the provisions of the constitution. In practice, however, history shows that constitutionalism is best realized in a liberal democratic regime wherein leaders govern within the limits of enumerated or widely accepted legal powers. This paper examines whether the adoption of the criminal aspect of sharia in Nigeria is in accord with constitutionalism and the rule of law. It seeks to determine which of the Constitution and sharia is the supreme law. The study approaches this task by discussing the jurisprudence of constitution and constitutionalism, and inquiring into wider theoretical perspectives on the relationship between national constitutions and Islamic law. It further studies what obtains in Turkey, a Muslim-majority but secular country, and compares it with Nigerian situation. The work finally seeks to draw for Nigeria lessons from the Turkish practice that is founded on the need for harmony. Discovering too that many principles of law taken as immutable and sacrosanct in Islam are not after all eternal and unchangeable, the paper recommends legal reform, openness to religious dialogue, development of patriotic sense, and avoidance of fundamentalism, among other factors, as the panacea.

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

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