The All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), has said nobody can contemplate imposing Sharia or customary laws on Nigerians since the country’s constitution does not permit a state religion.
Buhari, who made the assertion when he met with some northern pastors under the aegis of Northern Christian Leaders Eagle-Eyes Forum yesterday in Abuja, said contrary to the views of detractors, he is not a religious fanatic of any sort and would never support religious extremism.
“The Sharia identified in the constitution is almost synonymous with customary law. It is only applicable in matters of personal status such as marriage, divorce and inheritance. This has been the case since the 1979 constitution. Just as no one can make any customary or any other religious law, the law of Nigeria, so Sharia cannot therefore be the law of Nigeria,” he said
The former head of state who tried to dispel people’s notion regarding his alleged religious bias, insisted that he had never supported extremism of any kind, adding that nowhere in my record of service to this nation has this false toga taken place.
He said though he has been a devout Muslim, he has never belonged to, nor shared the views of any extremist group.
According to Buhari, the role of government is to protect lives and property of citizens and to respect and protect their constitutional rights.
“One critical freedom that every government must strive to protect is the liberty for citizens to exercise their respective faiths, Christians and Muslims or others, in a lawful manner without fear or hindrance and to prosecute those who use religion as an excuse to destroy homes, schools and places of worship.
“When governments fail in that duty, they must then assist in the rebuilding of structures including destroyed places of worship and give full restitution for lost property. We, Nigerians, are a religious people, and the burning of places of worship constitutes one of the vilest forms of abomination to all those who believe in God. It is the duty of governments to protect this important sensitivity,” he said.
While addressing the pastors, the APC vice-presidential candidate, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, identified poverty as the common denominator which does not have religious or ethnic inclinations.
“Poverty does not know religion, it doesn’t know Muslim, it doesn’t know Christian, it doesn’t know Hausa, it doesn’t know Yoruba or Fulani, poverty is poverty it affect people the same way the corruption is such that so much money that should be use to take care of the people are stolen,” he said.
The Chairman of the forum, Pastor Abu Aminchi, said the country was in dire need of a leader of courage who can confront biting corruption and insecurity.
“What this country needs now is the people with fear of God, the corruption and insecurity we talk about are because we have abandoned the way of God, and we need people who will show the way of God,” he said.
Highlight of the parley with the cheries was the handing-over of a copy of the bible to Buhari as a symbol of fraternity and support by the pastors for his quest for election as president.
Some of the pastors who met with Buhari were: Paul Great, Methodist Church, Jos; Bishop Lawrence Awanorwo, New Creation School of Divinity, Niger State and Bishop Daniel Oboni, of the Christ Life Evangelistic Church, Bauchi State.
Others church leaders were Bishop Musa Gomson of Unlimited Mercy and Glory Church, Gombe State; Dr. Abraham Babe, World Christian Mission, Taraba State; Paul Zumta, Alheri Baptist Church, Sokoto State; Rev. Sam Adejoh, Life Changer Christian Centre, Yobe State; Rev. Daniel D. Gonzuk, Amazing Grace, Benue State; Rev. Emmanuel Edesiri, Destiny Path Assembly International, Nasarawa State; Rev. Sunday Divine, Later Times, Borno State and Zonal Coordinator, the Lord’s Chosen, Pastor Ifeanyi Ikeji.