Did UK officially recognize Nigeria as an Islamic state?

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An X user, @emirsirdam, has claimed that the United Kingdom has officially recognized Nigeria as an Islamic country.

He claimed in a post on the X app (formerly Twitter) on November 22, 2023, and it has garnered over 200,000 views, more than 1,300 reposts, and over 1,700 likes since then.

The post read:

BREAKING: UK officially recognize Nigeria as an Islamic State Nigeria has been sold to the dogs, our colonial Masters now refer to Nigeria as an Islamic State...

The post was published alongside two screenshots from a press release allegedly from the official website of the United Kingdom’s government.

The claim was made after UK Foreign Secretary, David Cameron hosted a delegation of Foreign Ministers from Arab and Islamic countries in London. The essence of the talks with the Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee centered on finding a long-term political solution to the issue, securing the release of all hostages, and increasing the flow of humanitarian supplies into Gaza.

As a member of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) since 1986, Nigeria was among the countries hosted by the foreign secretaries.

The organization endeavours to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world which could be deduced from the meeting with the UK Foreign Secretary.

CLAIM

UK officially recognizes Nigeria as an Islamic State.

 

THE FINDINGS

Checks by The FactCheckHub show that the claim is MISLEADING!

According to Statista, it is estimated that over half of the population in Nigeria are Muslims. According to an estimate of Nigeria’s religious distribution from 2018, the total percentage of people practicing Islam is 53.5% while people practicing Christianity is 45.9%.

AbdulJelil Egbewole, a lawyer and legal associate at Y.C. Maikyau & co (a private law firm) in Abuja, said that “for a country to be considered as an Islamic state, it means they are governed by Sharia law.”

As of 2012, and up till now, twelve states in Northern Nigeria practice Shari’a law, namely Zamfara, Kano, Sokoto, Katsina, Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Yobe, Niger, Gombe, Kaduna and Kebbi.

“If a country is referred to as an Islamic state, it doesn’t mean that everyone in that country identifies as a Muslim or is practicing Islam; it just shows that there is a higher percentage of people practicing Islam in the country and they are governed by Shari’a law,” the lawyer explained.

Yunus Adelodun, a UK-based Nigerian lawyer who specializes in Arbitration, Litigation, Data Protection and Privacy, also shared the same view with Egbewole.

“It only means perhaps a substantial number of people there are Muslims or adopts Islamic law as its governing law,” Barrister Adelodun said.

 

THE VERDICT

The claim that UK officially recognizes Nigeria as an Islamic state is MISLEADING; it is taken out of context as Islamic states are countries that practice Shari’a law. Nigeria was part of the delegation as the nation is a member state of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).

Fact-checker at The FactheckHub | [email protected]

Seasoned fact-checker and researcher Fatimah Quadri has written numerous fact-checks, explainers, and media literacy pieces for The FactCheckHub in an effort to combat information disorder. She can be reached at sunmibola_q on X or [email protected].

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