Tuesday, June 14, 2016

RLPB 361. Nigeria: Legislation will further Islamise Nigeria

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 361 | Wed 15 Jun 2016

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NIGERIA: LEGISLATION WILL FURTHER ISLAMISE NIGERIA
By Elizabeth Kendal

It should come as no surprise that, just one year after the official swearing in of President Muhammadu Buhari, the federal parliament is considering two bills that, if passed, will further Islamise Nigeria. A former military dictator and coup plotter, Buhari had contested the presidency three times prior to the 2015 polls (2003, 2007 and 2011), each time on a pro-Sharia platform -- which was why he always lost as the majority of Nigerians do not want to live under Sharia Law. One reason why Buhari won the March 2015 presidential poll was that he dropped his pro-Sharia stance and took as his running-mate Yemi Osinbajo (55), a Pentecostal pastor from Nigeria's wealthiest and most popular Pentecostal Church. The Christian Association of Nigeria and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria threw their weight behind the secular, mostly Christian People's Democratic Party and its Christian candidate, Goodluck Jonathan. However, Osinbajo and the new-look Buhari successfully rallied southern Christian youths, helped along by pro-Buhari pastors who assured southern Christians that Nigeria simply cannot be Islamised as Nigerians are 'too educated' and 'too enlightened' for that!  [For background see RLPB 295 (4 Feb 2015).]

Armed Fulani cattle herder
A bill to establish grazing reserves for the Fulani in every state has successfully passed through second readings in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. There is no indication that the government, so keen to advance Fulani cattle herding in the south, has any interest in advancing Christian agriculture in the north or even in protecting farmers -- often poor Christian peasants -- from the destruction caused by Fulani cattle grazing on their crops. The Grazing Reserves Bill envisages the uprooting of 'native communities' and would pave the way for the Buhari government to facilitate Muslim Fulani expansion deep into the Christian south. This is despite knowing that the Fulani have been thoroughly infiltrated by Boko Haram, which uses the Fulani as a means to Islamic expansion. Whilst a majority of northerners are in favour, a majority of southerners are against this extremely divisive and dangerous bill.

A bill proposing to amend the Nigerian constitution to expand the scope and jurisdiction of Nigeria's Islamic Sharia courts passed its second reading without debate on 19 May. At present, Sharia courts of appeal may handle only civil matters -- family, wills, donations and the like. Consequently, any appeal of a criminal case must be heard in a government-run secular court.

Sentenced in a Sharia court to death
by stoning, Amina Lawal's sentence
was subsequently overturned (2003);
 it would not have survived an appeal.  
This is precisely why Sharia penalties such as stoning, flogging, limb amputation and execution are not handed down in Nigeria's Sharia courts -- they would never survive an appeal. That will change if this bill passes. Moreover, Muslims will lose their liberty because apostasy and blasphemy are criminal offences according to Sharia. The bill's sponsor, Abdullahi Salame, an MP from the northern Sharia state of Sokoto, claims that Sharia actually protects Christians. But as is common knowledge, the opposite is true. Legitimising Islamic Sharia Law always fuels Islamic zeal, a consequence of which is violent persecution of Christians.

Most shocking of all is how this bill, which has been shrouded in secrecy, has been quietly and willingly waved through by weak-willed, apathetic and corrupted Christian lawmakers. The job of protesting has been left to students. On 7 June Christian and Muslim youths, under the aegis of the Coalition of Civil Society and Faith-Based Organisations (CCSFBO), rallied peacefully in Abuja to protest a bill they condemn as dangerously divisive and nothing but a blatant attempt to Islamise Nigeria. Quoting the Biblical prophet Amos, Nigerian journalist and commentator Nnamdi Okosieme warns, 'Woe to those who are at ease in Zion ...' (Amos 6:1 ESV). 'Christians,' he said, 'must speak up, they must shout and they must go down on their knees and pray away the looming danger.'


PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL

* awaken, enlighten and embolden the Nigerian Church and Nigeria's Christian legislators, so that plots to further Islamise Nigeria will not proceed, but rather will backfire.

* subvert and defeat this plot to further Islamise Nigeria, redeeming it so that all freedom-loving Nigerians might start questioning the place of Islam and the role of Sharia Law in a secular democracy.

* redeem this situation as a means by which Nigeria's churches and Christians may be able to witness to the truth and wisdom of God as found in the Bible and through Jesus Christ.

'To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness ...' (Daniel 9:9 ESV, from Daniel's prayer for his people.)

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* REMINDER: Pray for Muslims during RAMADAN, 6 June to 5 July. See http://pray30days.org/ 

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SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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LEGISLATION WILL FURTHER ISLAMISE NIGERIA

One year after the official swearing in of President Muhammadu Buhari the government is considering two bills that, if passed, will further Islamise Nigeria. A bill to establish grazing reserves for the Fulani in every state would facilitate Muslim Fulani expansion deep into the Christian south. This is despite knowing the Fulani have been infiltrated by Boko Haram which uses the Fulani as a means to Islamic expansion. A bill proposing to amend the Nigerian constitution to expand the scope and jurisdiction of Nigeria's Islamic Sharia courts passed its second reading without debate on 19 May with apathetic and corrupted Christian lawmakers waving it through. Christian and Muslim students have protested in Abuja against the government's move to divide and Islamise Nigeria. Please pray for Nigeria and for her Church.

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Elizabeth Kendal is the author of Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat.

Her second book, After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East, (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016) will be available in the coming weeks.