The National Association of Catholic Lawyers (NACL) (Lagos Archdiocese) has condemned incessant killings in Southern Kaduna.
According to the Vicar-General of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kafanchan, Ibrahim Yakubu, 53 villages had so far been attacked, 808 people killed, and 1,422 houses and 16 churches destroyed.
NACL urged the government to take urgent steps to restore law and order in Southern Kaduna.
“If it is true that the criminals were from outside Nigeria as alleged by the Kaduna State government, we would like to know what the Federal Government has done or is doing to arrest the ugly situation and bring the perpetrators to book,” the lawyers said.
The association faulted the introduction of a new curriculum that merges Islamic Studies and Christian Religious Studies from primary one to junior secondary school three.
The lawyers said the unified education curriculum on religious studies designed by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) violates the Section 10 and 38 (1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution.
The sections provide that the government “shall not adopt any religion as state religion”; that every person “shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,” and that “no person attending any place of education shall be required to receive religious instruction…if not approved by his parents.”
NACL said a textbook published in furtherance of the policy has Christianity and Islamic studies next to each other, and is capable of “leaving young impressionable minds at the mercy of their imaginations or the orientation of whoever the teachers are.”
The lawyers, at a briefing in Lagos by their President, Geraldine Wey, and Chairman, Advocacy Committee, Matthew Egbadon, urged NERDC to come out with a clear policy statement reverting to the status quo ante.
NACL also faulted a bid to establish a National Board for Arabic and Islamic Education to cater for Islamic education, saying there were already parastatals under the Ministry of Education, that cater for the special needs of Muslims.
“We call on Mr Adamu Adamu, the Hon Minister of Education, to urgently withdraw the memo, which to say the least, is discriminatory and self-serving,” the association said.
The association criticised the bill seeking to increase the powers and jurisdiction of Sharia Law by amending sections 262 and 277 of the Constitution, which limit the jurisdiction of Sharia Court of Appeal in Abuja to appeals in Islamic personal laws such as marriage and succession.
The bill seeks to vest the court with powers to determine appeals in criminal matters. According to NACL, if the amendment is allowed, not only would Abuja no longer be a neutral place, the amendment would affect all Nigerians living in Abuja irrespective of their faith.
“We urge the House of Representatives to jettison this Bill in the interest of peace and harmony in the country because its passage would violate the Constitution,” the association said.
NACL demanded justice for Mrs Bridget Agbahime (74), who was killed last June 2 on the allegation of blasphemy.
“The Federal Government working with the Kano State government must reopen the case, fish out the culprits and ensure that they are tried in accordance with the laws of the land,” NACL said. (The Nation)