NIGERIA: Archbishop Akinola's anger over Sharia plans

david at david at
Fri Aug 5 10:05:55 EDT 2011

NIGERIA: Archbishop Akinola's anger over Sharia plans      

Church of England Newspaper 
July 29, 2011 

 THE FORMER Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, has added his voice to the chorus of protest over government regulated Islamic banks in Nigeria.

Injecting religion into the financial sector while the country wrestled with sharp sectarian divisions

was a recipe for disaster, the archbishop said on 10 July at a youth festival in Obantoko, and could lead to the "disintegration" of Nigeria.

However, Muslim leaders have attacked the archbishop, questioning his sincerity in condemning Sharia financial laws.

On 13 January, 2011 the Central Bank of Nigeria released an official circular setting the "Framework for the Regulation and Supervision of Institutions Offering Non-Interest Financial Services in Nigeria."

The new rules authorized Sharia law-compliant banking under the Fiqh al-Muamalat (Islamic rules on transactions). The Sharia banks would be permitted to take noninterest bearing deposits and to issue Islamic mortgages and loans under government licence.

Central Bank Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has denied allegations the new laws broached the line between church and state.

Nigerian Muslim leaders have also denounced the criticism of Sharia banking as ignorant, and have objected to the linking of terrorism with Islam.

A statement released on 11 July by the umbrella group the Conference of Islamic Organisations said there was "no link whatsoever" between "Islamic financial institutions and terrorism."

"We see the attacks against Islamic banking as insincerity and diversionary tactics to heat up the political situation of the country, thereby portraying Islam and Muslims as trouble-makers," the Muslim group said.

While financial institutions operating on Islamic banking principles can be found in Europe and across the Muslim world, the Nigerian law goes a step further in requiring the new banks be governed by Sharia law. While church leaders have not objected to the creation of private associations that are self-governed by Sharia law, they sharply object to the requirement that the new institutions under state licence be Sharia-compliant.

Archbishop Akinola called on the Church of Nigeria and "all other well meaning Nigerians to wake up and appreciate the situation."

"Well-meaning Nigerians must resist all of this by all lawful means and the National Assembly must see the whole thing as aa affront" to the Nigerian constitution "which states unambiguously that no particular religion shall be adopted as state religion."

"Government must take decisive action and promptly cancel everything about the proposed Sharia banking," the archbishop said, imploring Christians to "rise to defend our faith which is currently on trial" from pro-Muslim government policies and violent Islamist terror attacks.

"We are too comfortable.

We must not allow our enemies to win this battle."


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