Again, CAN says Buhari plans to Islamise Nigeria through Sukuk bond

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja by its General Secretary, Rev. Musa Asake has insisted that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government is planning to Islamise the country – This time they cite the SUKUK or Islamic bond.

Explainer (Proshare):

Sukuk or Islamic Bond is a financial instrument structured to generate returns to ethical investors without infringing on the Islamic law which forbids interest payments.

The maiden N100bn Sukuk is offered at N1,000/unit (minimum of N10,000 or 10 units) like a regular bond but represents an ownership interest in the asset to be financed rather than a debt obligation.

As such, participants will be paid a semi-annual, tax-free rental income (not coupons) of 16.47% on a pro-rata basis. The issuance is open to all investors but specifically offers ethical investors an opportunity to partner with the FGN to fund the developmental projects. Some of the roads to be funded by the bond include the Ibadan-Ilorin Rd, Kolo-Otuoke-Bayelsa-Palm Rd, Enugu-P/Harcourt Rd, Kaduna Eastern By-Pass, Kano-Maiduguri Rd. and Loko-Oweto Bridge over River Benue.

Amid a fast-growing global Sukuk market, this issuance increases the popularity of Sukuk as an alternative funding source on the African Continent. Kenya, South Africa, Sudan, Niger, Cote d’Ivoire, and Togo have all issued Sukuk. The FGN has so far in 2017 issued $1.5 billion Eurobonds, $300 million worth of Diaspora Bonds and monthly Savings Bonds in a bid to plug budget deficits.

CAN says:

Abrogate the laws and framework behind the bond or there will be legal redress. Nigeria was a secular state and the government was expected to be neutral on issues involving religion.

Nigeria is a secular state and the government was expected to be neutral on issues involving religion.

The Christian Association of Nigeria has been protesting against this aberration since the Osun State Government, under Governor Rafiu Aregbesola, embarked on this violation of the Constitution.

Rather than stand in the defence of the constitution, it is disappointing to note that the Federal Government is pursuing what is an outright confirmation of an Islamisation agenda.

The recent floating of Sukuk Bond by the 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.

Therefore, the manipulations and scheming to smuggle the country into a full-blown Islamic state should stop; these manipulations became apparent with the smuggling of Nigeria into the Organisation of Islamic Conference in 1986 by the Ibrahim Babangida military junta.

The FG must dismantle all legal and institutional framework established to promote Islamic financing in Nigeria.

We affirm that the territorial integrity of Nigeria is undermined through the issuance of Sukuk in the country. We hope that the government shall desist from its policies of unbridled religious sectionalism. 

Reaction from the Federal Government:

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the financial initiative was borne out of the need to include people who were opposed to interest-yielding enterprises.

Sukuk is not an attempt to Islamise Nigeria in any form. On the contrary, it is an attempt at financial inclusiveness. The difference between Sukuk Bond and other bonds is that if you invest in Sukkuk bond, you earn no interest.

So, the scheme appeals to many people who don’t believe that money should gather interest. They, however, engage in profit sharing in the sense that if the government makes a profit from the bond, they give the investor a part of it but if the government makes no profit, the investor is not entitled to anything.

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