Human rights advocate and lawyer, Malcom Omirhobo, has dragged the Federal Government to the Federal High Court Abuja, asking the court to declare Nigeria’s membership of the Organisation of Islamic Countries as illegal.
Omirhobo also prayed the court to terminate Nigeria’s membership of OIC, delist her from being a member, and restrain FG from using public funds to fund her membership of the organization.
The issue for determination raised in the suit is whether the combined reading of Sections 1(1), 10, and 42 (1) (a) (b) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) makes it constitutional for the FG to use public funds and the commonwealth of Nigerians to fund the membership of the OIC.
Among the reliefs sought, he prayed the court to declare that the FG, the 36 states, and the Federal Capital Territory shall not adopt any religion as state religion.
He also prayed the court for “a declaration of this honourable court that the OIC is not a secular global organisation like the United Nations, ECOWAS and the AU, but an Islamic body established to promote, protect and preserve Islamic interests and values for the benefit of Muslims worldwide.
“A declaration that Nigeria’s membership of the OIC, which is being funded, sustained, managed and ran with public funds and/or the commonwealth of Nigerians by the 1st defendant is the adoption of Islam as the official religion of Nigeria and therefore improper, illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.
“A declaration that Nigeria’s membership of the OIC with public funds is to the advantage, pride, prestige and privilege of Nigerian Muslims to the disadvantage, restriction and disabilities of Nigerians of other religions and therefore discriminatory, improper, illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.”
Omirhobo stated that Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and religious state, which is inhabited by over 200 million with diverse ethnic groups, languages, and cultures.
He argued that apart from Islam and Christianity, there are other religions practised in Nigeria such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Daoism, Atheism, Baha’i, Confucianism, Druze, Gnosticism, Jainism, Rastafarianism, Shinto, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, Traditional African Religions, Eckist, Armocs, gray message, Voodism, etc. Thus, Nigeria’s membership of the OIC will represent Nigeria as an Islamic State in the international community, when in the real sense, it is a Secular State.
Omirhobo prayed the court to grant his application as the acts of the defendants amounted to violations of the constitution.
In his affidavit, he deposed to the fact that he had the civic responsibility to bring the application before the court.
“That I have filed several public interest suits in defence of the Constitution of Nigeria and in the interest of the poor, the weak, the needy, the illiterate, the uninformed, the invulnerable, the incarcerated and the unrepresented.
“That I am a member of the Human Rights Law Committee and the Pro bono Committee of the International Bar Association (IBA). That by the oath I took during my call to the Nigerian Bar ceremony as a minister in the temple of justice and Solicitor and Barrister of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. I am commissioned to defend the Nigerian constitution at all times.
“That as a Nigerian citizen, it is my civic obligation and responsibility to defend the constitution at all times. I owe my allegiance to my country and her constitution; that I am a stakeholder in the Nigerian project and a co-owner of the Nigerian commonwealth.
“That as a result of the above, I am familiar with the facts of this case. I am bringing this public interest case for the interest of the Nigerian Public, especially for the interest of the poor, weak, illiterates, uninformed and vulnerable ones therein,” he swore.
Omirhobo sued the Federal Government, Attorney General of the Federation, and Minister of Internal Affairs as first to third defendants respectively.
No date has been assigned for the matter yet.
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