At first, we need to establish that Sharia laws are fundamental laws of Allah as believed by us the Muslim faithful sourced from the Holy Quran, Hadith, Ijma and Qiyas which technically governs social, political, economic process in any Islamic community or state.
The question many would then pose is why Sharia law in a supposed secular Nigeria state. Those assumed questioners wouldn’t be wrong for posing such query forward. What is to be done is to give the answer which would only be provided by taking an historical lens.
With the 1804’s Fodio Jihad, many parts of the area later named as Northern Nigeria were encapsulated under the umbrella of Islamic theocracy and subsequently got to be christened Muslim north by the British colonial administration that captured the territory among others some decades later except for those who distanced themselves to be a middle belt.
Consequently, since the British herself adopted indirect rule, the Sharia law remains to be in operation with the native authority structure and this has remained so even till independence.
However, by 1976 when the consideration for 1979 Constitution came up, most northern states called for the enshrinement of the Sharia law and it courts in the constitution not for all Nigerians but for the Northern Muslims to serve the roles that customary laws and courts serve in southern Nigeria.
So, another fact we need to point clearly here is that Sharia law exists in northern Nigeria as customary law, not as fundamental Islamic laws. For this reason, Sharia law as we have it operate only as sanctions for offenders.
In pristine Islam, Sharia system is not just about sanction but Social welfare and reward system defined its nature and character.
Calling what we have in the north a sham. How do I mean?
Under the orthodox Islam, Sharia laws do not operate without some mechanism such as the zakat system that serves as an instrument for economic equilibrium to the extent that issues of shelter, clothing and feeding would hardly be on the want list.
It is my opinion that if those basics that Sharia would strive to put in place where it really is practised is not in place, no one should amputate anyone for a case of stealing or theft, because where they do, Sharia already put in place mechanism for redistribution of wealth, then where the mechanism is not in place and you said you operate Sharia then it is a huge false consciousness of the Islamic ideal.
This is not to say I am against any sanction Sharia recommends for any offence, not even that of blasphemy but non-muslims should know that Sharia laws only apply to Muslims and that Islam has an embracing mechanism for it non-adherents neighbours. The best example was when our own prophet Muhammad ( PBUH) met the Jews in yathreb and they both established the pact on how to live and both parties adhered and lived on without religious crisis.
However, my disappointment is that the Sharia law as it is assumed to be practised in northern Nigeria is largely corrupted to the extent that it has diminished Sharia to only mean sanction or penalty for offenders. If they cannot demonstrate all full package of Sharia that would signal its beauty, they should also leave the sanction that comes with it.
Lately, it was reported that a northern governor made an appointment for special assistant unmarried youths, well to many southern folks it may appear laughable but indeed it is a welcome development where there is a purported operation of Sharia where you can be sued for fornication, then if Governor deemed it fit to say we need to have an office to address that where we can have data-based, work on youth empowerment for them to have their family and to do away with fornication. This is kind of mechanism Sharia speaks of, but not making any measure just wake up to sue someone for fornication would amount to an abuse of the Sharia system.
In a nutshell, Sharia is beautiful but operation in the north wouldn’t make us see it beauty since it only being operated as a mere sanction.
To get Sharia to operate in full package I only provide here the Nigerian federation should be restructured back to what we had in 1963 not to re-introduce regions but to give powers of regions to States this would allow each state to have self-determination and would be able to develop in the ways and manners they believe.
You would recall that during the first republic we had four constitutions in this country nothing would be wrong if we have 37 today
Onikoyi, Adekunle Wasiu, M.sc(Lagos) Co-Founder Somolu Focus. 📱 +234 808 286 8376