House of Representatives yesterday said it deliberately referred the Sharia Bill without debates to the Committee on Constitution Review in view of its divisive and controversial nature. The House in a statement yesterday, through Deputy Chairman, Media and Public Affairs Committee, Jonathan Gaza, said it was sure the Bill would not survive the committee level, thus, there was no need to waste productive time debating it on the floor.
The bill, which seeks to extend sharia law all over the country, had quietly scaled second reading in the House three days ago. The bill is calling for the criminal aspects of Islamic Sharia law to be implemented in Nigeria’s legal system at the federal and states levels. In view of the controversy the passage was now generating, the House explained its position on the bill, saying that it came up on the floor and was automatically referred to the adhoc committee on constitution review.
“There was no debate on it either for or against because the House is a democratic representatives chamber of the Nigerian people “Even if five people only have an issue with any section of the constitution, the House will give it a listening ear. “The adhoc committee on constitution review has one member per state and women and other representation. “The precedence is that it is in this committee that these kinds of matters are thrashed out. “Any Bill that has potentials to divide the country on religious or tribal lines or to reopen settled constitutional issues will most likely fail in the committee. “It should be noted that constitutional review bills are special bills that undergo many stages unlike an ordinary bill. “These include committee stage, plenary stage for voting by 2/3rd of the House, 2/3rds of all the state houses of assembly, before it comes back again to the National Assembly for voting again and finally it must receive presidential assent. “We are still at a very early stage in the process and Nigerians should not worry about bills of these nature as the House has shown over the years to be the protector of Nigerians’ national unity and interest,” it noted