Since its inception in 2015, the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) has been informing Nigerians, particularly the Christian community that the problem of Nigeria is simply the conflict between Democracy and Sharia and this was institutionalized in the 1999 Constitution. The 1999 Constitution is a document at war with itself because the two ideologies it accommodates are antithetical to each other and are pulling the country in opposite directions. It is therefore not surprising to observe that the country is prone to conflict, confusion, and disharmony. Nigeria is more divided today than it was during the Civil War of 1967 – 1970.
The unfortunate incident in the Federal High Court No 7 of Hon. Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu in Abuja on Thursday, December 6, 2019 is a confirmation that Democracy is under threat in Nigeria and Sharia is beginning to reign supreme. NCEF considers it very sad and deceitful for officials of this Administration to claim Nigeria is a Democracy when they are fully aware of their role in promoting Sharia as the National Ideology.
Mr. Kolawole Olaniyan, the Legal Adviser to Amnesty International alleged that this government has demonstrated “stunning disregard for the rule of law and human rights, ignoring Nigerian Courts on at least 40 occasions” since 2015. For any Government to disobey Court Orders up to 40 times is an indication of disdain and disregard for the Judiciary which is an important pillar of Democracy and, a gross violation of the Constitution which the President swore to uphold.
The case of Mr. Omoyele Sowore has brought to the fore the seriousness of the ideological conflict that is plaguing Nigeria and the need for Nigerians (indeed all the Ethnic Nationalities, that constitute pillars upon which Nigeria was founded irrespective of religious affiliation) to rise as one and demand a return to full Democratic Governance in the country. Apart from the Hausa, Fulani, and Kanuri Moslems, Sharia ideology will not favor any other group in the country, including those who profess Islam as their religion but are from different ethnic groups.
After gaining freedom from British Colonization in 1960, Nigerians should not walk with open eyes into another state of colonial servitude. There is still a window of opportunity to reverse the neo-colonization that has been set in motion. Whether we like the British colonialism or not, the British established the foundation for Democracy which all political and ethnic groups in Nigeria agreed upon which includes Separation of powers, Rule of law and Independent Constitution of 1960.
The signals that Democracy was gradually being destroyed in the country kept coming with disturbing frequency but Nigerians, particularly the Christians, kept advising themselves that the alarm raised by NCEF was nothing but politics. In fact, every attempt made to get the Church to re-organize and put structures in place to resist the Sharia avalanche was dismissed by some Christians as “contest” for temporal power within the Church. The unfortunate incidents unfolding in the country today have vindicated the NCEF.
The ugly incident in the Court premises in Abuja should confirm to every right thinking person that Democracy is in serious danger in Nigeria. If Democracy and Federalism should be truncated in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society like Nigeria, social and cultural policies based on Sharia cannot be an alternative. The first casualties shall be Christianity and the Judiciary because of the policy of “do unto others as you want to be treated” would be replaced with “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
For record purposes, Nigerians are urged to remember the following undemocratic utterances and actions by the current Administration without regard to law and order:
▪A statement by President Buhari that national security including manmade insecurity supersedes Rule of Law. It is very sad that the Lawyers at the NBA Conference where President Buhari made the statement broke out in raucous laughter instead of undertaking massive protests. What the Lawyers treated with levity played out physically in the Court house because it was not challenged.
▪The violation of the Federal Character Principle of the Constitution in which all the Security units are headed by people from one section and one religion in the country is not Democracy, but Sharia, which provides for supremacy of Islam and Muslims.
▪The disgraceful and manipulated removal of Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen.
▪The do-or-die conduct of elections in which the Military was given authority to shoot at sight is not Democracy.
▪The absorption of “repentant” Boko Haram terrorists into the Nigerian Army is suggestion of state sponsored terrorism. No democratic Government in the world absorbs terrorists into National Army. Even Shamima Begum, the girl who left Britain to join ISIS was denied re-entry into Britain by the Home Office. Her native country Bangladesh equally closed the door against her. She remains stuck in Syria.
▪The selective prosecution of Christian and Southern looters while Northern Muslim looters are not prosecuted is not Democracy; but Sharia.
▪The unwarranted harassment and embarrassment of southern Vice President to the point of humiliation, is not Democracy, but Sharia. A joint ticket means the country is in the hands of the President and the Vice President, in the absence of the President, not a third party the people did not vote for. Sectarian governments like Nigeria’s present establishment are not only inefficient but they are un-representing and anti-represented.
▪Other examples abound which Nigerians are fully aware of.
The attempt by this Administration to hoodwink Nigerians through claims that it is democratic while consistently undermining Democracy should no longer continue if the country is to survive. This Government has failed every democratic test while it excels in the promotion of Sharia.
Those who have persuaded themselves that they have “divine” mandate to own Nigeria and are sponsoring Sharia Ideology in a multi-cultural and multi-religious society should awake to reality and realize that Nigeria belongs to all the Ethnic Nationalities on equal terms. There can be no master-servant relationship if the country is to survive.
In view of the seriousness of this National Issue, NCEF wishes to recommend the following:
1. The Presidency has always stressed the fact that there are constitutional provisions to change the Constitution. It is not clear why ethnic nationalities have not united and organized to change the Constitution which suggests “running with the hare and hunting with the hound.” Afenifere, Ohaneze Nd’igbo, Middle Belt Movement and PANDEF (Pan Niger Delta Forum) should come together to ensure the return of Democracy entrenched in a proper Democratic Constitution not begging for re-structuring. It is the only way that Nigeria (now in a bad state) can return to Liberal Democracy, the basis upon which Nigeria became an independent country in 1960.
2. This is also an opportunity to call on influential Christian Army Generals to unite once again to save the country. General TY Danjuma who advised Nigerians to rely on self-help for their security, General Olusegun Obasanjo who warned about Fulanization of Nigeria, and General Yakubu Gowon who initiated “NigeriaPrays” all evidence that Nigeria is in a bad shape. It is time for them to settle their petty differences and speak out and act from their departure lounge. After all, they have been blessed with over six decades of leadership in the affairs of Nigeria. This they should do in the hope that when they meet with their Creator as Saints triumphant, the advantage of living over 80 years on earth will sufficiently offer gratitude to God for the privilege of being leaders. This is why they should complete what they began in the early and late 1950s as young officers recruited into the Nigeria Army.
3. The Ethnic Nationalities and the three octogenarians Generals, two former Head of State and Chief of Army Staff) must jointly, in the circumstance, call a conference for Reconciliation to halt the Buhari government progressive promotion of Sharia in the guise of Democracy as it has become very clear that the Fulani want to be Arabs rather than Africans (Nigerians) which they are. They must not be soldiers who fought a Civil War that kept Nigeria as one and in their old age become the soldiers in Agbada through whom Nigeria is lost to Arabs and Sharia. They must therefore accept Liberal Democracy, the basis for Amalgamation of 1914 to be one country and independence of 1960 as per independence Constitution.
4. A new Movement, in the circumstance, is recommended to be promoted by them and the Generals’ Ethnic Nationalities to adopt Democracy as its sole ideology for Nigeria. A Movement formed by Democrats in the 389 Ethnic Nationalities and Armed Forces personnel who believed in Democracy that would not be based on state or religion. The Movement will banish sectarianism, promote increased transparency that would help to expose un-mitigated patronage scheme of Sharia, strengthen the institutions of government including the Electoral Commission in Nigeria, as well as reform a political system that has failed the people. The alternative to Democracy movement in Nigeria is chaos and anarchy that will lead to disintegration. God forbid.
God bless Nigeria
Solomon Asemota, SAN
For and behalf of NCEF
11th December, 2019