The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) says the issuance of the Sukuk by the Debt Management Office (DMO) is an attempt to sell Nigeria to Islamic nations.
In a statement on Wednesday, the association said the introduction of “Islamic financing into a secular state is in violation of section 10 of the constitution”.
Offer for subscription on the Sukuk, which opened on September 14, is expected to close on September 20.
Patience Oniha, DMO director general, had said that proceeds from the bonds would be used to finance the construction of 25 economic roads across the six geopolitical zones in the country.
But the association rejected the explanation of the government.
“The recent floating of Sukuk bond by the federal government is not only sectional but illegal and a violation of the constitution. Every law that has been promulgated to back the Sukuk issuance and promote an Islamic banking system in Nigeria is ultra vires, illegal, null and void,” the statement signed by Musa Asake, CAN general secretary, read.
“According to the constitution, the Nigerian state is secular and government is expected to be neutral on issues involving religion. By promoting a sectional religious financial policy, the government is violating both the spirit and the letter of section 10 of the constitution.
“Funds raised under Sukuk must be used for Shariah compliant (halal) activities. Nigeria is not a Sharia-compliant nation, it is a democratic country. Nigeria cannot operate two national ideologies.
“The Sukuk shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as the Islamic law of Mu’amalatmaliyyah. We insist that there cannot be two laws for one nation.
“Sukuk is asset-based banking system unlike the conventional banking that is asset backed. While under the conventional banking system, the borrower provides collateral to back the loan and retrieves his asset after the loan is redeemed, under Sukuk, the loan is based on an asset which is and irredeemable. The Sukuk holder (lender) accepts land as asset on which the loan is based.
“At no time does the title pass to the customer, nor is it expected to pass. If the customer wishes to retrieve his asset at a later date, a separate agreement has to be drawn up. This in our view, is a sly and treacherous attempt to sell Nigeria to Arab Islamic Nations. It infringes on the sovereignty of Nigeria as the loan giver becomes part owner of the land of the receiver.
“The IMF says that the issuance of Sukuk by non-Islamic states/countries is a breach of the religious neutrality of the government of such state.”
CAN called on the federal government to revoke all legal and institutional framework established to promote Islamic financing in Nigeria.
“The new rules/amendments to the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Section 313(6) of the Investments and Securities Act 2007, and all other forms of law guiding operation of Sukuk issuance in Nigeria should be repealed, forthwith.
“In the alternative, legal redress will be sought to defend the Sovereignty and territorial integrity of Nigeria if the national assembly failed to checkmate the executive on this unconstitutional action.”