LEGAL APPRAISAL OF CHILD RIGHTS ACT VERSUS SHARIA LAW IN NIGERIA
After dilly-dally for over ten years, Nigeria finally enacted the Child Rights Act (CRA) in 2003. Being a federal state, it is imperative for the various states to adopt and enact the CRA. However, sequel to the adoption of CRA by some states, the Supreme Council of Sharia asserted that “CRA will abolish the very basis and essence of the sharia and Islamic culture” and therefore called for its absolute rejection.
In reality, there are fundamental differences in the philosophical underpinning and several provisions of the CRA and Sharia. For example, provisions of CRA in respect of adoption, marriage, custody, family court etc are fundamentally different from Islamic personal law. Moreover, the child oriented justice approach of CRA in respect of children in conflict with the law is contrary to the Sharia criminal law in which both adults and children can be subjected to stiff punishment and penalties including death penalty.
Consequently, up till now, the CRA has been formally adopted by just one state out of the twelve Sharia implementing states. Meanwhile, opposition by the others is mounting by the day. This paper attempts a reconciliation of both legal regimes in order to ensure that even these Sharia states which constitute about one-third of the states in the country benefit from the lofty objectives of CRA.