President Muhammadu Buhari, who has been widely quoted as saying he supports “the total implementation of Sharia in the country” yesterday said the country cannot practice certain prescribed punishments under the Islamic penal code.
President Buhari noted that the Nigerian law does not allow for “sharia punishments, such as stonings and amputations”, adding: “I cannot change it [constitution]. I haven’t been voted by [a] majority of Nigerians to change Nigerian constitution”.
He made this known while speaking to Mehdi Hasan, host of Al Jazeera English’s flagship current affairs show, ‘UpFront’.
The exclusive interview touched on a wide-range of issues including the Chibok girls, the presidential deadline to end insurgency in the country, the Amnesty International report indicting the Nigerian military of alleged human rights abuses among others.
On the Chibok girls, Buhari said he would be willing to negotiate with the group to secure the release of the over 200 schoolgirls kidnapped over a year ago by Boko Haram.
“They have to prove to us that they are alive, they are well, and then we can…negotiate with them”, President Buhari said. “We said it and we meant it. If we are satisfied that the girls are alive”.
Asked about his record as a military dictator in the mid-1980s, and the alleged human-rights abuses which occurred on his watch, Buhari said: “If there is any injustice that can be proved against me when I was there, I will gladly apologise”. He, however, refused to concede that his now-notorious ‘war against indiscipline’ in the 1980s featured any such ‘injustice’.
The president insisted that the Nigerian military would defeat Boko Haram by the end of 2015.
“As soon as the rainy season comes, which is by the end of the year, Boko Haram will virtually be out of their main stronghold and that will be the end of it. Attacks by Boko Haram on townships and military installations will certainly stop”, he said.
The president also said he had not seen the AI’s report from June 2015, entitled ‘Nigeria: Stars on their shoulders: Blood on their hands’, in which the human-rights group documented alleged abuses, torture and extrajudicial killings by the Nigerian Armed Forces and urged the government to prosecute a group of officers and senior commanders.
“I haven’t received that report personally”, Buhari said. “If I get those documents, I assure you that I will take action as Commander-in-Chief”.