The plan by the Nigerian government to introduce Islamic banking to the country is being strongly criticized and opposed by Christian leaders in the country.
The Christian Association of Nigeria(CAN), the umbrella body for Christian groups in Nigeria, has argued that the proposal of Islamic banking in Nigeria violates the country's longstanding secular constitution. According to Father Paul Anyansi of the St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, the timing of the plan is not right because the federal government is right in the middle of a bloody struggle against the extremist Islamist group Boko Haram in the northern part of the country. Father Paul Anyansi said:
We have too many religious tensions in terms of Islam against Christians. So it could stir up more. This is not the time for it," he said. "The policies for Islamic banking are good in the sense where there is no loan and interest. It doesn't go against the beliefs of the Islams. But what we are trying to say is that this country is not mature for it now.It could be as effective as it is England, as it is in America, as it is in Malaysia or countries where it is operated. But for now, we are still growing. A lot of people are not accepting their brother as their brother. They are not accepting the differences between religions. It will create more problems…
Human rights advocacy groups have also spoken against the plan for introduction of Islamic banking in Nigeria arguing that Nigeria cannot claim to be running a secular constitution while at the same time introducing what is described as an "Islamic" banking system. Oke Adheke a human rights activists said:
The moment they gave it a religious coloration it is not good for this country. Islamic banking by the name is not good for this country. Let them give us banking products that they believe are good for the ordinary man. The problem with this country is that we introduce too many funny things and tell stories about them, yet they don't work…
Others have, however, spoken in favor of the introduction of Islamic banking in Nigeria, arguing that people are wary of the idea only because they are ignorant of what it really is about. Islamic teachers have explained that the uniqueness of Islamic banking is that it prohibits paying or receiving interest or investing in any activity contrary to Islamic principles. Many Islamic countries already operate interest-free banking systems in which customers' funds are invested and dividends paid to depositors.
A Nigerian banker Mr. Solomon Osiobe says:
Let's give it a chance because it has its advantages and disadvantages. If the rules are set out to be followed by the people who are to be served and there is public awareness, this banking system can go on..
Another banker Mohammed Mustapha Bintube argues that Nigeria needs an alternative system to bring new banking opportunities to Nigeria's Muslims.
The Christian Association of Nigeria has, however, vowed to challenge the introduction of Islamic banking in court.