Bill to set up Christian Court passes second reading


A Bill seeking to establish Christian Court has passed second reading at the House of Representatives. The Bill, if passed into law would make the Christian Court the equivalent of Shar­ia Court of Appeal.

House of Representatives

Sponsored by Hon. Isti­fanus Gyang (Plateau PDP) and eight others, it is titled: “A Bill for an Act to alter the Con­stitution of the Federal Repub­lic of Nigeria (2004), to Provide for the Establishment of the Ec­clesiastical Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja and the Ecclesi­astical Court of Appeal of the States, and for related matters.”

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The proposed law seeks to activate Section 37(1) of the Constitution, which guaran­tees the right of every citizen to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including to prop­agate one’s religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance, the sponsors said.

But some Nigerian Chris­tians, who reacted to the law­makers’ action, described it as an exercise in futility.

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They argued that Je­sus Christ who is the mod­el preaches reconciliation and forgiveness.

Others argued that it was a subtle way to introduce Sharia Court across the country. They asserted that it was a trap be­ing set for the gullible Chris­tian community, adding that once the proposed court takes off, Muslims will have justifia­ble reason to demand for Sharia Courts all over Nigeria.

They also alleged that it is another strategy to break the ranks of Christians, asking whether the adherents of the Pentecostal denomination will appear before the Cardinals as judges.

The bill stipulates that judg­es to man the courts will be ad­dressed as Cardinals and will be drawn from those learned in law, who would be required to administer justice in accord­ance with the Christian faith and the laws of the country. Their appointments would be done by the National Judicial Council (NJC).

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Leading the debate on the bill, Hon. Gyang explained that the Ecclesiastical Court when established would complement the regular courts in adjudicat­ing matters relating to the ten­ets of the Christian faith.
He said: “This shall be be­tween individuals and groups that yield and submit to its ju­risdiction.”

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The lawmaker said that the court shall exercise such ap­pellate and supervisory juris­diction in civil proceedings involving questions of Ecclesi­astical Law and Christian Per­sonal Law.

He explained that the Amendment Bill was seeking 14 alterations in sections 6, 84, 185, 240, 246, 247, 288, 289, 292 and 318 of the principal Act.

Gyang said: “It alters the second, third, sixth, and seventh schedule of the principal Act. It has four insertions in Part 1G, section 270A-E, Part 2D, Sec­tion 285A-E and a citation.”

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He added that the amend­ments will no doubt widen the scope of jurisprudence, adjudi­cation and legal practice in our nation.

According to him, “it will bring to reality the administra­tion of Ecclesiastical Christian tenets and law in adjudicating matters of personal Christian law and civil matters. These shall be prescribed in the rule of practice and procedure of the Ecclesiastical courts.’’

Speaking further on the Bill, Gyang explained that the Bill was not competing with Shar­ia courts and does not take into cognizance, the different de­nominations in Christendom.

He said: “The customary courts already take care of tra­ditional worshippers…it would create new fields of study in law…”

The bill was, however, re­ferred to the Special Ad-hoc Committee on Constitutional Review.

Source: Authority Newspaper


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