Nigeria constitutionally is a secular not multi-religious country: factually it is an Islamic state
The Saturday Guardian, August 20, 2016, had the front page captioned “Nobody Can Islamize Nigeria, says Sultan”.
The main story on page two of the paper with another caption, “Nobody Can Turn Nigeria to Islamic State” reads:
“The Sultan of Sokoto has told Nigerians to forget the fears or suspicion of a grand plan to turn Nigeria into an Islamic State.”
Abubakar pointed out yesterday, that it is impossible for a multi-religious country like Nigeria to be converted into a monolithic religious state.”
He continued, “It is not possible to Islamize Nigeria. If God had wanted, he would have created all Christians or all Muslims.
“We are not secular but a multi-religious state because the people are so religious. We must respect one another and understand the tenets of the two religions.”
MEANING OF SECULAR
NCEF begs to disagree with his Eminence that Nigeria is a multi-religious state, based on the fact that the Constitution which forms the basis, upon which our founding fathers agreed to live together as a country, provides under Section 10 that “the Government of the Federation or of a State shall not adopt any religion as State Religion”.
The Oxford Advanced Learners dictionary defines: secular
1. as “not connected with spiritual or religious matters”.
2. “Of priests living among ordinary people rather than in a religious community”.
Nigeria has multi-cultural and multi-religious communities, tribes, ethnic nationalities but one nation.
It is correctly assumed that in the interest of peace and justice, the Constitution in Section 10 PROHIBITS the State from Religious participation by way of recognizing one and two religions.
Multi-religious country does not fit the interpretation of Section 10 rather it is its opposite.
The Sultan’s interpretation, we submit, is intended to justify Islam and Christianity as State religions until Islam dominates to become de facto and de jure religion of Nigeria.
Apart from Professor Ben Nwabueze, most lawyers, Christian and Muslim, shy away from the proper meaning of Section 10 of our Constitution.
It is our hope that this issue of whether Nigeria is a Secular or multi-religious state will be subjected to proper conversation in the future.
However, in the interpretation of English words (not Arabic), Nigeria constitutionally, is a secular State.
We respectfully disagree with the Sultan “that it is not possible to Islamize Nigeria” as she has already been Islamized.
ORGANIZATION OF ISLAMIC CONGRESS (OIC)
By taking Nigeria into the OIC in 1986, Military Dictator, Ibrahim Babangida officially turned Nigeria into an Islamic State.
The Charter of OIC concerning membership stipulates that a country should, first and foremost, be persuaded that it is an Islamic nation before it can apply for membership.
Simply by the act of the application for OIC membership, Babangida tampered with the secularity of the Nigerian State.
That unilateral decision should be reviewed because it violates Section 10 of the Constitution.
Hassan al-Banna, the founder of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 1928, wrote in 1934, “it is a duty incumbent on every Muslim to struggle towards the aim of making every people Muslim and the whole world Islamic, so that the banner of Islam can flutter over the earth and the call of the Muezzin can resound in all the corners of the world. God is greatest. (Allahu akbar).”
Al-Banna further instructed his followers: “Islam is faith and worship, a country and a citizenship, a religion and a state.
“It is spirituality and hard work. It is a Quran and a sword.” (Muslim American Society www.maschicago.org)
We know that Muslim members of the Nigerian Armed Forces, (and the Sultan was a General in the Army), have soft spot for the Egyptian Armed forces until it became estranged with the Brotherhood.
Some of us, Christians, are unable to accept as a result of lack of evidence that the Islamists doctrine of Jihad (Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen) is not acceptable to Nigerian Muslims.
We say so because the conduct of government officials suggests intolerance, and preparation for Jihad.
It will be recalled that in 2007, a British Elementary School teacher in Sudan, an Islamic State with Christians, Gillian Gibbons, was convicted for “insulting religion” and threatened with death for allowing her students to name a teddy bear Mohammed.