The Sharia and Civil Law Systems in Nigeria City/State

The Sharia and Civil Law Systems in Nigeria: 5

TheSharia and Civil Law Systems in Nigeria

City/State

TheSharia and Civil Law Systems in Nigeria

Introductionto the Nigerian Law System

TheNigerian law system is mainly comprised of four different legalsystems. The legal systems are all complementary in various aspects.The four legal systems are the customary law, the common law, theEnglish law and the Sharia law. The Sharia law is only used in thepredominantly north part of the country occupied by the Muslims(Obadare, 2010).The Sharia law system has been used since pre-colonial times in theIslamic states. The Sharia law is applied in a number of statesnamely, Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi, Jigawa and Gombe amongst anew others.

TheSharia laws are written, unlike customary laws. The Sharia law isfounded on active principles that are based on the Koran. The law isprecise and thorough articulation of issues. The law stipulates thevarious forms of punishments Muslim are imposed to when they goagainst the set standards. Judgments passed by the Sharia courts areappealable in the Sharia court of appeal. However, at the SupremeCourt the Nigerian constitution reigns supreme since it is theprimary tool that is used to pass judgments. The Sharia law is set ondivine intervention.

TheSharia law is mainly based on human reasoning and ijtihad. The law ismore often open to rationalization through the consideration of theunderlying circumstances Nigeria has a civil law system that addressthe legal issues in the parts of the country that are not occupied bythe Muslims(Umaru, 2013).Thecivil law draws its powers from the Nigerian constitution that issupreme to all other laws written in the country. The civil law thatis outlined in the constitution is geared toward realization of thefull well being of the humanity. The civil law underscores varioushuman rights that must be respect for all the people. The lawenshrines the observance of the fundamental human rights(Kalu, 2005).The civil law is used to guide then many parts of the Nigeria thatare non-Muslim occupied. The civil law also complements the Sharialaw in its inadequacies since it’s drawn from the country`sconstitution that reigns supreme in the face of all other laws.However, in Nigeria the situation is complicated due to the increasedresistance by non-Muslim on the Sharia law. The Non-Muslims arguethat the application of the Sharia law in some parts of the countryis a tendency to deviate from democratic management of the state.Those opposed to the Sharia law system accuse the Sharia laws ofdouble standards and disregard for fairness to all human being. Thegroup garners for a unitary laws that all Nigerians are governedalong. However, Sharia advocating groups argue that the constitutionreigns supreme in case of any inadequacy in the Sharia laws. Thecivil law is geared towards providing guidance to the Nigerianpopulation with regard to non-criminal acts that are not punishableby the state.

Thelaw rules encompassed in the civil law include the business laws,private and public law. The civil laws are geared towardsestablishing a faultless society with minimal disagreements among thepeople in Nigeria. The law ensures properly written contracts are thefoundation to reduced differences among the Nigerian population. Thecivil law is helpful in ensuring smooth running of economicactivities in the country.

TheComparison of the Sharia and Civil Laws

Payingcloser attention to the details of the civil and Sharia laws thefollowing is revealed. The Sharia law is applicable to a selectedarea of Nigeria that is predominantly occupied by Muslims. Thecitizens are judged in the Sharia court using rules drawn from theKoran. The Koran established the necessary foundation f the Sharialaw system as taught by Prophet Muhammad. The Sharia law is aimed atthe improvement of the economic well-being of the Muslim ensuringgood human deeds are maintained to ensure good will. Additionally,the Sharia law is too that is important in solving conflicts amongstthe extremist Muslims that believe the constitution drawn from thewestern knowledge is oppressive and leads to religion weakening.

TheSharia law is modeled around an individual that is required to upholdthe legislation to ensure peaceful co-existence between the humanbeings. The law is not founded on the society as the primary organ toensure mutual human respect. However, in the civil law the communityis required to take responsibility and ensure various societal ethosare upheld against given rules. The civil law assumes the communityis charged with ensuring all the people around their environment areacting in accordance with the constitution. Failure to do so may leadto a person being accused of facilitation of given crime due to theinability to report to the authorities. Similarly, while the Sharialaw is founded on the basis of fundamental Islamic religionprinciples the civil law is based on particular rational thoughtsagainst that human behavior is evaluated.

Thecivil law draws its spirit from that that the society believes isright and fair based on some philosophical knowledge that has beentested previously(Oso,2011).However, in Nigeria the civil law is broadly accepted by the majorityof the population that are Christian that are against the specialtreatment of the Muslim through the Sharia law. The non-Islamicsociety has been demanding a uniform application of the law to allhuman beings through the civil law that is drawn from the country’sconstitution that is the supreme law. However, efforts were made tounite the two legal systems at the apex through the Supreme Courtthat ensure fair application of the law of both the civil and Sharialaw. The Sharia law has the Sharia appeal court as the highest court.Disgruntled parties from the Sharia law courts are privileged to seekan order from the Supreme Court that is drawn from all the member ofdifferent religions. This provides the parties an opportunity to venttheir anger to the objecting parties in the Supreme Court as it isstipulated in the Nigerian constitution. However, the generalconsensus has been found amongst the Nigerian population agreeingthat Sharia law help reduce the number of disputes in society throughits well-modeled model of dispute resolution(Ezegbobelu, 2009).

Islamiclaw as an alternative dispute resolution

Alternativedispute resolution refers to the other methods used to solve disputesand conflicts other than through litigation. The Sharia law inNigeria is a classic example an alternative to conflict resolution inNigeria. The Sharia law has helped cut the number of case that aretaken to court for hearing. This is achieved through the applicationof the Islamic doctrines and principles from Prophet Muhammad insolving conflicts. The solving of the disputes involves negotiationand mediation among the various parties with a view to achieving acompromise position. The Sharia law provides an opportunity to have aneutral evaluation of a conflict before its presented to the courtfor a hearing. Some particular individuals are empowered to help thesociety to ensure that such minor disputes are resolved amicably(Paden, 2005).

InNigeria, the Sharia laws have helped reduce the number of cases thatare presented to the courtrooms for hearing(Moore, 2010).This has become a significant boost to the judicial system that isoverwhelmed by the large number of cases that have been presented ina court of law. Considering the high Nigerian population it isimportant to have an alternative dispute resolution mechanism thathelp ensure the country is more stable with reduced interpersonal andinter-communal conflicts. The efforts made to apply in the conflictrevolution in Nigeria have borne fruits given the small number ofcases registered by the Muslim community in the stabilized part ofthe country. The only exceptions are the parts that are occupied bythe Boko Haram that continues to commit human atrocities to peopleliving in those areas. Sharia law in Nigeria has helped resolvenumerous internal family wrangles some of that have threatened someareas stability due to their massive influence(Harnischfeger, 2008). .As a result this has led to the state becoming more stable.Marriage conflicts in Nigeria among the Muslim community are alsoreported to be at a low rate given the expansive nature of the Sharialaw in the resolution of such conflicts. The Sharia law has alsohelped in the resolution of business interest conflict amongst theNigerian Muslim community. The negotiation and conciliatory talks areguided by Sharia principles that are aimed at the realization of astable society with economic prosperity.

Furthermore,the Sharia law application as an alternative dispute resolutionmechanism has helped spur businesses growth in Muslim occupied due toeffective resolution of conflicts allowing them to venture into moreeconomically productive activities(Hassan, 2011).As a result, the Sharia laws have helped to resolve minor businessrows that have threatened the community`s stability and well-being.It is in such measure that the Sharia is recognized to be asignificant alternative dispute resolution avenue.

Theacceptance and embracing of alternative dispute resolution standardhave mainly been occasioned by the rising cost of litigation(Cheeseman, 2013).Litigation costs have gone up over the years as the legalprofessionals seek to raise more income to support their families.Additionally, the competition to get the best legal minds in thecountry has also led to the burgeoning litigation cost in the countrycoupled with the government’s objective to raise more revenue tofund the public expenditure(Peters, 2004).Additionally, the high number of cases in the court of laws have ledto the piling up of cases over a long [period of time hence a slowresolution pace. This occasioned by the small number of the judicialstaff compared to the high number of suits presented. As a result,the Sharia law has been recognized as an alternative disputeresolution mechanism that gives more readily resolution in a quickerand faster pace. This enables the rapid reduction of animosityamongst communities due the faster dispute resolution. However, theSharia law as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism sufferssevere limitation in that it is limited to only the Muslim communityin Nigeria(Campbell, 2013).The Sharia law cannot be used to resolve minor between Non-Muslim andMuslims since the former fail to acknowledge the legitimacy of theSharia laws(Odoeme, 2013).This has acted as a major shortcoming of the Sharia laws` adoption asa national full alternative dispute resolution mechanism.

Caseand Incidences That Put Civil Law above Hierarchy

Thecivil law lies above in the hierarchy of the Nigerian laws since itsdrawn from the constitution that is the supreme law of the land. The(Keshavjee, 2013)civil law is contained in the country’s constitution and is mainlyapplied non- discriminately to all the persons in the country. It isnot a reserve a given echelon of persons in the country. The law isapplicable to the person irrespective of their status. The civil lawaddresses all the inadequacies of all the other laws in the country(Menski, 2006). The law stands in whereby one of the parties in analternative dispute resolution mechanism feels oppressed. An idealexample occurs when individuals feel unsatisfied by the judgmentspassed by the Sharia laws courts(Badru, 2013).The parties are open to challenge the resolutions adopted by thetribunal under the Sharia legislation in the Supreme Court thatoperates under the civil law. The parties are given a fair hearing bythe tribunal that is guided by the civil law assuming Nigeria is asecular nation.

Thecivil law has stamped its to be above the hierarchy in a famouslitigation case pitting Chief Gani Fawehini against General SaniAbacha, the Attorney general of the federation, the inspector generalof police and the state security service (SSS).The respondent chiefGani was arrested at his residential home without a warrant ofdetention by the SSS and detained without facing any charges in theprison(Ojo, 2001).The move in his view was a fundamental violation of human rights asenshrined in the constitution(Nigeria, 2000).He required the move declared illegal and uncalled for.

However,despite, the high offices held by the people the respondents hadchallenged he won the petition and the supreme court of Nigeriaawarded him damages amounting to N 10.000.00.The amount was to coverfor the main appeal and the cross-appeal. It is such cases that paintthe higher standing of the civil law in the legal corridors. This isattributable to the fact that civil law is drawn from theconstitution that is the supreme law governing Nigeria.

Conclusion

Infinality, it is critical to note the role complementary nature of thecivil and Sharia laws in Nigeria in spite of the fierce resistancefrom some quarters. It is important to take note that Sharia lawshave helped reduced the number of litigation cases through itscapacity as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism.Additionally, the constitution of Nigeria is the supreme law on theon the land since all disputes at other jurisdiction such as Shariacourts are solved using it at the Supreme Court.

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