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INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: NATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION THE NIGERIAN PERSPECTIVE BY MRS. O. O. AKINSOJI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FEDERAL MINISTRY.

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Presentation on theme: "INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: NATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION THE NIGERIAN PERSPECTIVE BY MRS. O. O. AKINSOJI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FEDERAL MINISTRY."— Presentation transcript:

1 INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: NATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION THE NIGERIAN PERSPECTIVE BY MRS. O. O. AKINSOJI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FEDERAL MINISTRY OF INTERIOR

2 6/3/2014copyright INTRODUCTION Nigeria is in West Africa with a population of approximately 140 million (2006 Census). Over 250 ethnic groups with three dominant ones – Hausa-Fulani in the North, the Igbo in the East and the Yoruba in the West. Two dominant religions – Christianity and Islam. Islam is predominantly in the Northern part of the country while Christianity is predominant in the South.

3 6/3/2014copyright The dictionary definition of religion is belief in the existence of a god or gods that created the universe and gave human beings a spiritual nature which continues to exist after the death of the body. Religion plays important role in character moulding, societal coherence and has a great weapon for peace and reconciliation. Article 18 of United Nations 1948 declaration of Human Rights is the bases for Nigerian laws for religious protection. LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR PROTECTION OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM 1

4 6/3/2014copyright Chapter iv, Section 38 of Nigerian 1999 Constitution contains the provision on the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Examples of cases decided in the Courts lend credence to this claim. LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR PROTECTION OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM 2

5 6/3/2014copyright IDENTITY MUSLIMS: Muslim men from the Northern part of the country wear BABARIGA and KAFTAN. The women mostly cover themselves with veil or Hijab. CHRISTIANS: Males and females from the Southern part of the country wear mainly English dresses especially as official dresses. Some Christian denominations have adopted a particular norm that one could identify them with.

6 6/3/2014copyright STEREOTYPES AND DISCRIMINATION 1 Discrimination includes any distinction, exclusion, limitation or preference based on religion. Section 10 of the Constitution states that the Government of the Federation or of a state shall not adopt any religion as state religion. However, some state Governors in the North introduced Sharia Laws that were not well implemented.

7 6/3/2014copyright STEREOTYPES AND DISCRIMINATION 2 Christians in such states claimed they were being discriminated against by denying them land to build churches and access to the use of state-owned radio station. This development led to the protest against Sharia implementation and the Northern Christians called on the then President to call the Sharia states to order

8 6/3/2014copyright In order to douse the tension created by the implementation of the Sharia Laws, the then Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice made a declaration on the issue and issued a letter titled Prohibition of Discriminatory Punishments circulated to the states practicing Sharia Laws. It states as follows: Attorney Generals Declaration

9 6/3/2014copyright It is my solemn duty to bring to your notice the hundreds of letters which I receive daily from all over the world protesting the discriminatory punishment now imposed by some Sharia Courts for certain offences..... The fact that Sharia Laws apply to only Moslems or to those who elect to be bound by it makes imperative that the rights of such persons to equality with other citizens under the Constitution be not infringed. Attorney Generals Declaration cntd.

10 6/3/2014copyright A Moslem should not be subjected to a punishment more severe than would be imposed on other Nigerians for the same offence. Equality against…Individuals and states must comply with the Constitution. A court which imposes discriminatory punishment is deliberately flouting the Constitution. The stability, unity and integrity of the Nation are threatened by such action. Attorney Generals Declaration cntd.

11 6/3/2014copyright In order to implement policies or Constitution, we must first secure its amendment. Until that is done, we have to abide by it. To proceed on the basis either that the Constitution does not exist or that it is irrelevant is to deny the existence of the Nation itself. We cannot deny the rule of law and hope to have peace and stability. Attorney Generals Declaration cntd.

12 6/3/2014copyright RELIGIOUS DIFFERENCE 1 The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria demonstrates promotion of religious understanding between different religions, by marriages as well as by the formation of associations. For the purpose of promoting national integration, Section 15 states that it shall be the duty of the State to encourage inter-marriage among persons from different places of origin, or of different religious, ethnic or linguistic association or ties; and Promote or encourage the formation of associations that cut across ethnic, linguistics, religious and or sectional barriers.

13 6/3/2014copyright RELIGIOUS DIFFERENCE 2 Promotion of national integration through inter- marriage among persons from different religions has played significant role towards the elimination of religious discrimination and differences more in the Southern part of the country than in the North. In spite of the peculiar differences in the two main religions, Nigerians are still seen to tolerate one another, accommodate and associate with one another. In most official gatherings, recognition is accorded to the adherents of the two religions by calling representatives of each to offer opening and closing prayers.

14 6/3/2014copyright NATIONAL LEGAL INSTRUMENT 1 The National Legal Instrument for the protection of religious freedom lies in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Section 10 prohibits State Religion. Section 15, Sub-section 2, prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion. Section 15, Sub-section 3(c) and (D)... Encourages inter-marriages and association among persons from different religious backgrounds. Section 23 indicates that Religious Tolerance is one of the National ethnics.

15 6/3/2014copyright NATIONAL LEGAL INSTRUMENT 2 Section 38 promotes right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Section 42, sub-section 1 (a) and (B) promotes Right to freedom from discrimination. Section 260 enumerates the Courts that shall exist in the Judicial System Section 38 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, Sub-section 1, guarantees freedom to change ones religion or belief as well as freedom to manifest it either in dressing, practice or in teaching.

16 6/3/2014copyright THE SHARIA LAW This is a legal system applicable to some Moslem dominated States. Sharia Law is seen by Moslems as a divine law established through Eternal Order, through the Prophet Mohammed. The guiding principles of the Sharia Law are contained in the Holy Quran, the Hadith and the Sunnah.

17 6/3/2014copyright CONCLUSION Religion should not be seen as a divisive factor in a society. There is need for mutual respect for each others faith. There is need for a co-ordinated enlightenment campaign by both government and the Islamic leaders in the Sharia States in order to avoid the pitfalls in the implementation of the Sharia Laws. It should be understood that the enforcement of extreme Sharia Laws violates all human rights especially the Right to Religious Freedom.

18 6/3/2014copyright THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION! CONTACT: Phone:

19 6/3/2014copyright The dictionary definition of religion is belief in the existence of a god or gods that created the universe and gave human beings a spiritual nature which continues to exist after the death of the body. Religion plays important role in character moulding, societal coherence and has a great weapon for peace and reconciliation. Article 18 of United Nations 1948 declaration of Human Rights is the bases for Nigerian laws for religious protection. LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR PROTECTION OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM 1

20 INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: NATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION THE NIGERIAN PERSPECTIVE BY MRS. O. O. AKINSOJI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FEDERAL MINISTRY OF INTERIOR

21 6/3/2014copyright INTRODUCTION Nigeria is in West Africa with a population of approximately 140 million (2006 Census). Over 250 ethnic groups with three dominant ones – Hausa-Fulani in the North, the Igbo in the East and the Yoruba in the West. Two dominant religions – Christianity and Islam. Islam is predominantly in the Northern part of the country while Christianity is predominant in the South.

22 6/3/2014copyright The dictionary definition of religion is belief in the existence of a god or gods that created the universe and gave human beings a spiritual nature which continues to exist after the death of the body. Religion plays important role in character moulding, societal coherence and has a great weapon for peace and reconciliation. Article 18 of United Nations 1948 declaration of Human Rights is the bases for Nigerian laws for religious protection. LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR PROTECTION OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM 1

23 6/3/2014copyright Chapter iv, Section 38 of Nigerian 1999 Constitution contains the provision on the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Examples of cases decided in the Courts lend credence to this claim. LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR PROTECTION OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM 2

24 6/3/2014copyright IDENTITY MUSLIMS: Muslim men from the Northern part of the country wear BABARIGA and KAFTAN. The women mostly cover themselves with veil or Hijab. CHRISTIANS: Males and females from the Southern part of the country wear mainly English dresses especially as official dresses. Some Christian denominations have adopted a particular norm that one could identify them with.

25 6/3/2014copyright STEREOTYPES AND DISCRIMINATION 1 Discrimination includes any distinction, exclusion, limitation or preference based on religion. Section 10 of the Constitution states that the Government of the Federation or of a state shall not adopt any religion as state religion. However, some state Governors in the North introduced Sharia Laws that were not well implemented.

26 6/3/2014copyright STEREOTYPES AND DISCRIMINATION 2 Christians in such states claimed they were being discriminated against by denying them land to build churches and access to the use of state-owned radio station. This development led to the protest against Sharia implementation and the Northern Christians called on the then President to call the Sharia states to order

27 6/3/2014copyright In order to douse the tension created by the implementation of the Sharia Laws, the then Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice made a declaration on the issue and issued a letter titled Prohibition of Discriminatory Punishments circulated to the states practicing Sharia Laws. It states as follows: Attorney Generals Declaration

28 6/3/2014copyright It is my solemn duty to bring to your notice the hundreds of letters which I receive daily from all over the world protesting the discriminatory punishment now imposed by some Sharia Courts for certain offences..... The fact that Sharia Laws apply to only Moslems or to those who elect to be bound by it makes imperative that the rights of such persons to equality with other citizens under the Constitution be not infringed. Attorney Generals Declaration cntd.

29 6/3/2014copyright A Moslem should not be subjected to a punishment more severe than would be imposed on other Nigerians for the same offence. Equality against…Individuals and states must comply with the Constitution. A court which imposes discriminatory punishment is deliberately flouting the Constitution. The stability, unity and integrity of the Nation are threatened by such action. Attorney Generals Declaration cntd.

30 6/3/2014copyright In order to implement policies or Constitution, we must first secure its amendment. Until that is done, we have to abide by it. To proceed on the basis either that the Constitution does not exist or that it is irrelevant is to deny the existence of the Nation itself. We cannot deny the rule of law and hope to have peace and stability. Attorney Generals Declaration cntd.

31 6/3/2014copyright RELIGIOUS DIFFERENCE 1 The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria demonstrates promotion of religious understanding between different religions, by marriages as well as by the formation of associations. For the purpose of promoting national integration, Section 15 states that it shall be the duty of the State to encourage inter-marriage among persons from different places of origin, or of different religious, ethnic or linguistic association or ties; and Promote or encourage the formation of associations that cut across ethnic, linguistics, religious and or sectional barriers.

32 6/3/2014copyright RELIGIOUS DIFFERENCE 2 Promotion of national integration through inter- marriage among persons from different religions has played significant role towards the elimination of religious discrimination and differences more in the Southern part of the country than in the North. In spite of the peculiar differences in the two main religions, Nigerians are still seen to tolerate one another, accommodate and associate with one another. In most official gatherings, recognition is accorded to the adherents of the two religions by calling representatives of each to offer opening and closing prayers.

33 6/3/2014copyright NATIONAL LEGAL INSTRUMENT 1 The National Legal Instrument for the protection of religious freedom lies in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Section 10 prohibits State Religion. Section 15, Sub-section 2, prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion. Section 15, Sub-section 3(c) and (D)... Encourages inter-marriages and association among persons from different religious backgrounds. Section 23 indicates that Religious Tolerance is one of the National ethnics.

34 6/3/2014copyright NATIONAL LEGAL INSTRUMENT 2 Section 38 promotes right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Section 42, sub-section 1 (a) and (B) promotes Right to freedom from discrimination. Section 260 enumerates the Courts that shall exist in the Judicial System Section 38 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, Sub-section 1, guarantees freedom to change ones religion or belief as well as freedom to manifest it either in dressing, practice or in teaching.

35 6/3/2014copyright THE SHARIA LAW This is a legal system applicable to some Moslem dominated States. Sharia Law is seen by Moslems as a divine law established through Eternal Order, through the Prophet Mohammed. The guiding principles of the Sharia Law are contained in the Holy Quran, the Hadith and the Sunnah.

36 6/3/2014copyright CONCLUSION Religion should not be seen as a divisive factor in a society. There is need for mutual respect for each others faith. There is need for a co-ordinated enlightenment campaign by both government and the Islamic leaders in the Sharia States in order to avoid the pitfalls in the implementation of the Sharia Laws. It should be understood that the enforcement of extreme Sharia Laws violates all human rights especially the Right to Religious Freedom.

37 6/3/2014copyright THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION! CONTACT: Phone:

38 6/3/2014copyright Chapter iv, Section 38 of Nigerian 1999 Constitution contains the provision on the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Examples of cases decided in the Courts lend credence to this claim. LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR PROTECTION OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM 2

39 6/3/2014copyright IDENTITY MUSLIMS: Muslim men from the Northern part of the country wear BABARIGA and KAFTAN. The women mostly cover themselves with veil or Hijab. CHRISTIANS: Males and females from the Southern part of the country wear mainly English dresses especially as official dresses. Some Christian denominations have adopted a particular norm that one could identify them with.

40 6/3/2014copyright STEREOTYPES AND DISCRIMINATION 1 Discrimination includes any distinction, exclusion, limitation or preference based on religion. Section 10 of the Constitution states that the Government of the Federation or of a state shall not adopt any religion as state religion. However, some state Governors in the North introduced Sharia Laws that were not well implemented.

41 6/3/2014copyright STEREOTYPES AND DISCRIMINATION 2 Christians in such states claimed they were being discriminated against by denying them land to build churches and access to the use of state-owned radio station. This development led to the protest against Sharia implementation and the Northern Christians called on the then President to call the Sharia states to order

42 6/3/2014copyright In order to douse the tension created by the implementation of the Sharia Laws, the then Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice made a declaration on the issue and issued a letter titled Prohibition of Discriminatory Punishments circulated to the states practicing Sharia Laws. It states as follows: Attorney Generals Declaration

43 6/3/2014copyright It is my solemn duty to bring to your notice the hundreds of letters which I receive daily from all over the world protesting the discriminatory punishment now imposed by some Sharia Courts for certain offences..... The fact that Sharia Laws apply to only Moslems or to those who elect to be bound by it makes imperative that the rights of such persons to equality with other citizens under the Constitution be not infringed. Attorney Generals Declaration cntd.

44 6/3/2014copyright A Moslem should not be subjected to a punishment more severe than would be imposed on other Nigerians for the same offence. Equality against…Individuals and states must comply with the Constitution. A court which imposes discriminatory punishment is deliberately flouting the Constitution. The stability, unity and integrity of the Nation are threatened by such action. Attorney Generals Declaration cntd.

45 6/3/2014copyright In order to implement policies or Constitution, we must first secure its amendment. Until that is done, we have to abide by it. To proceed on the basis either that the Constitution does not exist or that it is irrelevant is to deny the existence of the Nation itself. We cannot deny the rule of law and hope to have peace and stability. Attorney Generals Declaration cntd.

46 6/3/2014copyright RELIGIOUS DIFFERENCE 1 The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria demonstrates promotion of religious understanding between different religions, by marriages as well as by the formation of associations. For the purpose of promoting national integration, Section 15 states that it shall be the duty of the State to encourage inter-marriage among persons from different places of origin, or of different religious, ethnic or linguistic association or ties; and Promote or encourage the formation of associations that cut across ethnic, linguistics, religious and or sectional barriers.

47 6/3/2014copyright RELIGIOUS DIFFERENCE 2 Promotion of national integration through inter- marriage among persons from different religions has played significant role towards the elimination of religious discrimination and differences more in the Southern part of the country than in the North. In spite of the peculiar differences in the two main religions, Nigerians are still seen to tolerate one another, accommodate and associate with one another. In most official gatherings, recognition is accorded to the adherents of the two religions by calling representatives of each to offer opening and closing prayers.

48 6/3/2014copyright NATIONAL LEGAL INSTRUMENT 1 The National Legal Instrument for the protection of religious freedom lies in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Section 10 prohibits State Religion. Section 15, Sub-section 2, prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion. Section 15, Sub-section 3(c) and (D)... Encourages inter-marriages and association among persons from different religious backgrounds. Section 23 indicates that Religious Tolerance is one of the National ethnics.

49 6/3/2014copyright NATIONAL LEGAL INSTRUMENT 2 Section 38 promotes right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Section 42, sub-section 1 (a) and (B) promotes Right to freedom from discrimination. Section 260 enumerates the Courts that shall exist in the Judicial System Section 38 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, Sub-section 1, guarantees freedom to change ones religion or belief as well as freedom to manifest it either in dressing, practice or in teaching.

50 6/3/2014copyright THE SHARIA LAW This is a legal system applicable to some Moslem dominated States. Sharia Law is seen by Moslems as a divine law established through Eternal Order, through the Prophet Mohammed. The guiding principles of the Sharia Law are contained in the Holy Quran, the Hadith and the Sunnah.

51 6/3/2014copyright CONCLUSION Religion should not be seen as a divisive factor in a society. There is need for mutual respect for each others faith. There is need for a co-ordinated enlightenment campaign by both government and the Islamic leaders in the Sharia States in order to avoid the pitfalls in the implementation of the Sharia Laws. It should be understood that the enforcement of extreme Sharia Laws violates all human rights especially the Right to Religious Freedom.

52 6/3/2014copyright THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION! CONTACT: Phone:


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