THE Nigerian government has been dragged to court over the country’s continued membership of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC).
In the suit filed before an Abuja Federal High Court by human rights lawyer Malcom Omirhobo, the plaintiff is asking the court to terminate Nigeria’s membership of OIC, delist it from being a member, and restrain the Federal Government from using public funds to fund its membership of the organisation.
He is also asking the court to determine whether it is constitutional for the government to use public funds to fund its membership of the OIC by the combination of Sections 1(1), 10, and 42 (1) (a) (b) of the amended 1999 Nigerian Constitution.
Omirhobo is also stating before the court that the OIC is not a secular global organisation like the United Nations (UN), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU), but an Islamic body established to promote, protect and preserve Islamic interests and values for the benefit of Muslims worldwide.
Therefore, he prays the court to declare that Nigeria’s membership of the OIC, which is funded, sustained, managed and run with public funds and the commonwealth of Nigerians by the first defendant, illegal and an adoption of Islam as the official religion of Nigeria.
The plaintiff says it is imroper, illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.
He is also seeking a declaration by the court 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 other religions and, therefore, discriminatory, improper, illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.
Omirhobo states that Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and religious state inhabited by over 200 million with diverse ethnic groups, languages, and cultures.
He further argues 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, Shintoism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, and Traditional African religion, among others.
Thus, Nigeria’s membership of the OIC presents the country as an Islamic State in the international community, when in the real sense, it is a secular state, he argues.
Omirhobo equally prays the court to grant his application as the defendants’ acts amount to violations of the constitution.
In his affidavit, he deposed that he had filed several public interest suits, and it was within his 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 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.
He prays the court to declare that the Federal Government, 36 states, and the Federal Capital Territory shall not adopt any religion as state religion.
Joined in the suit are the Federal Government, Attorney General of the Federation, and Minister of Internal Affairs as first to third defendants.
No date has been fixed for the matter yet.
Nigeria joined the OIC under the regime of the military dictator, Ibrahim Babangida, in 1986.