Invidious, Unobtrusive acts of intolerance by Majority Sunni Muslims Escalated This Crisis – Justice Kolawole

Invidious unobtrusive acts of intolerance by majority Muslims who follow the Sunni school of thought against the minority Muslims who follow the Shiah school of thought has been identified as an important factor escalating the current crisis leading to the continued detention of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and the continued incessant persecution of its members.

This assertion was made by Honourable Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja while delivering judgement in the case for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of Sheikh Zakzaky and the wife in December, 2016.

Justice Kolawole said, “The escalation of this crisis, I want to be hazard a guess by way of obiter remarks, may have been the result of invidious, perhaps unobtrusive acts of intolerance by the greater majority of Muslims who recognize, practice, observe and belong to the “Sunni Islamic School of Thought”.

The Applicant as the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria – which I understand, belongs to the “Shiite School of Islamic Thought”, and this Court, without being equipped with any reliable demographic data, it seems that the greater majority of Nigerian Muslims belong to the “Sunni School of Islamic Thought”.

But the important and fundamental issue which needs to be emphasized, is that by the provision of Section 38(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN), 1999 As Amended, the said Constitution by virtue of the provision of its Section 1(1) being the “grundnorm” to borrow this term or classification from Hans Kelsen (1881 – 1973) in his “Pure Theory of Law”, on which the State, which Section 2(1) of the same Constitution states that “Nigeria is one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign State to be known by the name of the Federal Republic of Nigeria” is one that recognizes and guarantees “Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion” which right also carries with it, a concomitant right in every citizen, not only to differ when it comes to issues of faith and religion, but it includes the “right to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance”.

It is in this regard, that I was of the view that this case is better settled “politically”rather than through the judicial process which by its nature, has limited capacities in being able to address fundamental issues of faith based on religion.


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