04 Jan



Religion is the belief and worship of a deity… the relationship of man and his God. It has been regarded as the highest distillation of morality. The argument has been; give to Ceaser what belongs to Ceaser and to God what belongs to God. It has been argued that religion and sin should be separated from law and crime. Crime should be punished here on earth while sin should be punished by God. Section 10 1999 CFRN provides that The Government of the Federation or of a State shall not adopt any religion as State Religion. However, it appears that the Penal Code (which predominantly applies in the Northern States of Nigeria) have some Sharia flavour.

On the contrary position, some advocate for the Law and State to conform with certain Religious Standards. Saint Thomas Aquinas posits that laws of man which violates laws of God should be invalid. Aristotle also maintained that the law of polity should conform with law of heaven else there would be chaos which only God can solve. In the theocratic states, religion is fused with law/State. E.g. Saudi Arabia. There are also a host of cases where religious infractions had been punished by the courts. Many have criticised those that advocate religion in the affairs of State.

Most provisions of the our codes are against lies[1], theft[2], dishonesty[3] and other acts which are also prohibited by religion. Also, most laws promote freedom of religion[4] and even give special recognition to certain religious relationships[5]. Approved by a host of cases[6].

In conclusion, it appears that although religion is separate from law, it manifestations are inherent in most of our laws.

[1] See Section 465 of the Criminal Code, the various laws against misrepresentation and deceit.

[2] See Section 383 of the Criminal Code a corresponding provision of the Penal Code is 286 (1).

[3] Various laws against dishonesty, corruption  and misappropriation. See Section 2 of the ICPC (Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission) Act, Article 1 of the Code of Conduct Tribunal Act, Section 98, 98 A and 98 B of the Criminal Code and so on.

[4] Guarranteed in Section 38 Of the 1999 Constitution. Article 8 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Right. The Edict of Religious Toleration Rome.

[5] Section 10 of the Criminal Code exempts a wife of a “Christian Marriage” from being an accessory after the fact for her husband. Section 33 exempts a wife of a Christian Marriage for act she does under the command of her husband. Section 34 provides that a husband and wife of Christian marriage cannot be guilty of conspiracy. Section 369 and 370 also promotes the Christian admonition of one man one wife.

[6] Medical and Dental Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal V Okonkwo (where refusal to take blood to save patient’s life was justified on religious grounds). Kokinakis V Greece, where the court held that every person is entitled to proselyte and seek for converts. Onwo V Oko, and so on.


Quite eccentric really

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