CONFAB Update: Delegates In Clash Over Religion

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Religious indifference once again came to the fore yesterday the ongoing National Conference as delegates engaged in a debate over the dominance of Islam in the 1999 Constitution without any mention of Christianity.

The debate started when Christian delegates representing Christian Leaders, Bishop of Kafanchan Diocese of Catholic Church, Joseph Bagobiri and Pastor Emmanuel Bosun (Ogun State), raised the issue which they described as unfair treatment of Christians and Christianity in the country.

This angered their Muslim counterparts, who opposed their submissions, but for the intervention of the presiding officers, the plenary would have degenerated into a rowdy session

The Christian delegates submitted that the constitution of Nigeria was skewed in favour of Islam and Muslims with a call on delegates to ensure that the imbalance was corrected.

Bagobiri opened the debate on religion. He gave a detailed analysis of how the Nigerian constitution did not have any mention of Christianity or the church, but Islam was repeatedly mentioned.

He also argued that the adoption of a particular religion by states must be done away with, adding that in a country like Nigeria, neutrality was needed.

He said since Islamic courts had been created, it was only normal to extend the hands of fellowship to Christianity in order to create a fair state. He called for the establishment of Ecclesiastical Courts to handle Christian-related disputes, like Sharia courts.

In his contribution, Bosun argued that the conference must address religious imbalance in the country, adding that the conference needed to address religion squarely before it destroys Nigerians.

He said, “In the 1999 Constitution, Shariah was mentioned 73 times, Grand Khadi 54 times, Islam 28 times, Muslims 10 times and there is no single mention of Christ, Christian, Christianity or church. Some mischievous elements are taking these lapses in the constitution to come to the ungodly decision that probably that the state is an Islamic state.”

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