​The House of Representatives on Tuesday in Abuja passed the second reading, a bill to provide for the establishment of the Ecclesiastical Court of Appeal in the country.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Gyang Dung (PDP-Plateau) and eight others.

Presenting the bill during plenary, Dung said that the Ecclesiastical courts, when established, would complement the regular courts in adjudicating in matters relating to the tenets of the Christian faith.

According to him, this shall be between individuals and groups that yield and submit to its jurisdiction.

Dung explained that the Ecclesiastical court shall exercise such appellate and supervisory jurisdiction in civil proceedings involving questions of Ecclesiastical law and Christian personal law.

The lawmaker said that the amendment bill was seeking 14 alterations in sections 6, 84, 185, 240, 246, 247, 288, 289, 292 and 318 of the principal Act.

“It alters the second, third, sixth, and seventh schedule of the principal act.

“It has four insertions in Part 1G, section 270A-E, Part 2D, Section 285A-E and a citation,’’ Dung said.

According to him, the amendments will no doubt widen the scope of jurisprudence, adjudication and legal practice in our nation.

“It will bring to reality the administration of Ecclesiastical Christian tenets and law in adjudicating matters of personal Christian law and civil matters.

“These shall be prescribed in the rule of practice and procedure of the Ecclesiastical courts.’’

Dung emphasised that the amendment would activate section 37 (1) of the 1999 constitution which guaranteed the right of every citizen to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

“It will also entail freedom to propagate one’s religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance,’’ Dung said.

He said that Cardinal who will serve as judges of the Ecclesiastical court shall be drawn from those learned in the law.

They shall be required to administer justice in accordance with the Christian faith and the law of the nation.

Below is the bill:

A Bill for an Act to Alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, CAP.C23 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to provide for the establishment of the Ecclesiastical Court of Appeal of the FCT Abuja and the Ecclesiastical Court of Appeal of the States, and for Related Matters has passed second reading on the floor of the National Assembly on Tuesday 6th Dec 2016.  

The Bill was sponsored by Rep. ID Gyang & 8 others.

Legislative Brief

Long Title: A Bill for An Act to Alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Cap. C23 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to provide for the establishment of the Ecclesiastical Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja and the Ecclesiastical Court of Appeal of the States; and for related matters.

Sponsors: Hon. Gyang Istifanus Dung Hon. Gbefwi Gaza Jonathan

Hon. Sunday Marshall Katung Hon. Yusuf Ayo Tajudeen

Hon.  Johnbull T. Shekarau Hon. Engr. Solomon Bulus Maren

Hon. Timothy Simon Golu Hon. Kwewum Rimamnde Shawulu

Hon. Shiddi Usman Danjuma

This Bill seeks to amend and alter the CFRN 1999 (as amended) to provide for the establishment of Ecclesiastical Court of Appeal FCT, Abuja and of the States providing for their functions and jurisdiction, as well as the qualification, appointments and tenure of cardinals of the Ecclesiastical Courts.

The Ecclesiastical Court when established shall compliment the regular courts in adjudicating in matters relating to the tenates of the Christian faith between individuals and groups that yield and submit to its jurisdiction.

QUALIFICATION, APPOINTMENT & TENURE OF CARDINALS

The  judges (cardinals) of the Ecclesiastical Court  shall be drawn from those learned in law and shall be required to administer justice in accordance with the Christian faith and the law of the nation. The qualification, appointment and tenure of grand cardinals and cardinals is provided for in the new sec. 270B (1) – (5).

JURISDICTION

The Ecclesiastical Court shall exercise such appellate and supervisory jurisdiction in civil proceedings involving questions of Ecclesiastical Law and Christian Personal Law as provided in the new sec. 270C (1)-(2) including;

(a) any question of Christian personal law regarding marriage concluded in accordance with that law; including a question relating to the validity or dissolution of such marriage or a question that depends on such a marriage and relating to family relationship or the guardianship of an infant;

(b) where all the parties to the proceedings are Christians, any question or Christian personal law regarding a marriage where no prior or subsequent customary or statutory marriage is contracted, including the validity or dissolution of that marriage, or regarding family relationship, a foundling or the guardianship of an infant;

(c) any question of Christian personal law regarding a will or succession where the endower, donor, testator or deceased person is a Christian;

(d) any question of Christian personal law regarding an infant, prodigal or person of unsound mind who is a Christian or the maintenance or the guardianship of a Christian who is physically or mentally infirm; or

(e) where all the parties to the proceedings, being Christians, have requested the court that hears the case in the first instance to determine, that case in accordance with Christian personal law, or any question.

ALTERATIONS & INSERTIONS

In all, it has 14 alterations in section 6, 84,185,240,246,247,288,289,292 & 318, of the Principal Act;

It alters the second, third, sixth and seventh schedule of the Principal Act;

It has 4 insertions in Part 1G, section 270A-E, Part 2D, section 285A-E and a citation.

CONCLUSION:

This amendment will no doubt widen the scope of Jurisprudence, adjudication and legal practice in our nation and bring to reality the administration of Ecclesiastical Christian tenates and law in adjudicating matters of personal Christian law and civil matters which shall be prescribed in the Rules of practice and procedure of the Ecclesiastical Court.

This amendment conforms with and activates section 37(1) CFRN 1999 (as amended) which guarantees the right of every citizen to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching.

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