The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has cleared the air on rumours of existence of a bill seeking to introduce Sharia legal system in Nigeria before the National Assembly.
Speaking at a reception organised in his honour together with Secretary to the Government of the Federation Babachir David Lawal by the Northern Nigerian Christian Politicians in Abuja, Dogara, refuted reports alleging that the House has before it a Sharia bill, according to a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media & Public Affairs Mr. Turaki Hassan.
The Speaker maintained that by the provisions of the standing rules of the House, bills on constitution amendment are referred to the Special Adhoc Committee on the Review of the Constitution which has the sole prerogative to introduce constitutional amendment bills in the House.
He revealed that a member introduced clauses which sought to include criminal aspects of Sharia in the constitution which was referred to the Special Adhoc Committee on the Review of the Constitution but added that no such bill has yet emanated from the Committee.
The speaker who took time to explain the rigorous and cumbersome processes of amending the Constitution to the gathering, added that before such bill could be passed into law, at least 2/3rd of members of the National Assembly would have to vote yes to it before it is transmitted to the 36 states houses of assembly for endorsement by 2/3rd of them.
He further explained that voting on such clauses are done with individual members voting for or against each clause before it is passed and that if any clause fails in either of the two chambers such amendment is considered “dead” and as such will not be voted upon by the other chamber as doing so will amount to waste of time and exercise in futility.
“The proposal came in a way that a member wants some criminal aspect of sharia to be enshrined in the Constitution now as a House if even there is a proposal from this floor that we should embrace ecclesiastical law we are bound to consider it and by the virtue of our rules once there is that kind of proposal we send it to the Committee,” he said.
Speaking further, Dogara said: “No individual member has the right to craft a bill that will lead to amendment of the constitution. Only the committee has the sole prerogative of drafting bill that will lead to constitutional amendment. In the Senate I am not aware that such a bill has been presented by the committee. In the House that committee has not submitted any bill. That is where we are. It is not only totally misleading by false to say that National Assembly is seeking to introduce sharia in the Constitution. There is no such bill.”
“I want us to get this thing clear because it is a point of contention in the Christian community not only in the north but even in the south. I feel I have the duty as the Speaker to explain this even though I had explained it on the floor of the House before.”