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Former Nigerian Presidents Recounts Stand on Sharia

ICC Note

When Northern States introduced Sharia in Nigeria , there were violence which resulted in destruction of Churches and murdering of Christians. Ironically the president of Nigeria at the time was a Christian. Here are explanations offered by the then president Obasanjo as to why Sharia was allowed to be introduced in Northern Nigeria .

By Paul Okwuobi

Thursday, August 16, 2007 LAGOS , NIGERIA (ANS) — Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has offered explanations on his do-nothing stance during the imposition of the Islamic legal system known as Sharia on some Northern States without consideration for the Christians, saying that it was introduced by governors with selfish political agenda.

The former President who gave this explanation at the 55th annual convention of the Redeemed Christian Church of God held at the 12,000-acre Redemption Camp off Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, said Sharia was introduced when Nigeria had just recovered from ethno-religious riots in Kaduna , Kano , Sagamu and Umuahia, between 1999 and 2003.

Revealing that he came under severe international pressure, President Olusegun Obasanjo said: “I told the international community that if Sharia was from God, it will survive but that if it was politically motivated, it will fizzle out. Today, the so-called Sharia introduced by the selfish governors is dead.

“Some said tanks should be rolled out to quash Sharia. Some said Sharia would destroy Nigeria .

“Advertently or inadvertently, those who started the Sharia did not realize — maybe they did — the implications for the corporate existence of this country.”

As Obasanjo spoke, he intermittently shouted, “Praise God!” The shouts, however, fell on a cold congregation. The reason for this is not for fetched. The proponents of Sharia were unmindful of the feeling of non-Muslims in their midst. The fact that Nigeria is a secular country, without a State religion, appeared not to have mattered at all. Besides that, the Islamic legal system (Sharia) provides that anyone who steals would have his right arm amputated while the adulterous and the consumer of alcoholic drinks would receive several lashes of the cane.

Many Christians found the Islamic legal system very offensive. Also, it does not seem that the adherents of the other religious flavor Sharia.

Because the then Christian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, did nothing apparent to stem the tide of Sharia many Christians felt betrayed and the newspapers were awash with agitation coming from them. The disappointment felt by the Christian populace heightened as the speculation that Sharia was introduced to undermine the office of the president spread like wild fire. For a very long time the office of the president of Nigeria was occupied by Northern Muslim politicians.