Justice Ibrahim Tanko-Muhammad, Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, on Wednesday advocated for teaching of Sharia law in Nigerian universities in Arabic language.
He made the remark while declaring open the 20th Annual Judges Conference held at the Faculty of Law Moot Court, Kongo Campus of Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria, Kaduna State.
The two-day conference was organised by the Centre for Islamic Legal Studies, CILS, ABU in collaboration with National Judicial Institute, NJI, Abuja.
The theme of the conference is: “Documentation of Contracts in Islamic Law: Procedure, Sample Precedents and Practice.”
The CJN, who was represented by Justice Muhammad Danjuma, Grand Khadi of Niger State, said the call became imperative in view of the importance of Arabic to Sharia legal system.
“The Sharia law should be taught in Arabic instead of English, there is no university in Nigeria that runs Sharia in Arabic, they all teach Sharia in English.
“So, academicians let’s also look into this issue, let’s try something, let’s have a Faculty of Sharia.”
Mr Tanko-Muhammad blamed Muslims for their lukewarm attitude towards moving the Sharia forward in Nigeria, advising that there should for a change of attitude to propel Sharia to certain level of advancement.
He recalled that since the issue of Sharia was introduced in Nigeria, there was no meaningful progress up to today, saying that “while others are moving, the Shari is not moving in this country.
“As we all know that there are sections of the constitution that allow the implementation of Sharia personal law and apart from that, we cannot do more than that.”
He said there was a section of the constitution that says: “Not less than three of Judges of the Court of Appeal should be learned with Sharia, as at that time the number of Justices of the Court of Appeal was limited.
“It comes to a time where the number of Justices of Court of Appeal was increased, but the number of Justices to be learned in Sharia is still limited to not less than three.
“We should have fight, because Muslims are there when they increased the number of the Justices, we say ok, since the number of Justices has been increased, we should also increase our number to be not less than 10 or five,” he advised.
This, according to him, will enable those Justices with Sharia background attend to issues that have to do with Islamic law.
In his speech, the Vice-Chancellor, ABU, Prof. Ibrahim Garba lauded the collaboration between CILS and NJI for providing a platform for a national discuss on core issues in Islamic jurisprudence.
Mr Garba, who was represented by the Dean, ABU School of Postgraduate Studies, Prof. Sani Abdullahi, assured the organisers that the management of the university identifies with the philosophy and objectives of the Annual Judges Conference and had fully thrown its weight behind it.
He said the university decided to do so largely due to its far-reaching significance for both the development of Islamic Legal Education as well as National Development.
“A university without public discuss or an avenue to discuss research findings or critical problems confronting society is not worth its name,” he argued.
Earlier, the Director, CILS, Prof. Muhammad Bello-Uthman said the main objective behind the conference was for the development of Sharia.
He recalled that in the last 20 years of organising the conference it had handled several areas of interest to Sharia including Islamic Criminal Justice, procedural matters, marriage and divorce, issues relating to children and recently Islamic financial legislation.
“The centre has found that there is a gap in the existing financial legislation in this country, and that several Non-Interest Financial Institutions (NIFIs) do not actually possess the documentary wherewithal required to compete with many of the advanced Non-Interest Financial jurisdictions around the world.
“In the light of this, we resolved to do some work on this in order to fill in the gap that exists. To achieve this, we need to generate the mandate of jurists, hence the selection of this conference theme,” he noted.
The conference attracted participants such as Grand Khadis from different states of Northern Nigeria, Sharia Court Judges, academics and lawyers.