Human rights lawyer, Chief Malcom Omirhobo, has filed a suit against the federal government at the Federal High Court, Abuja, praying the court to declare Nigeria’s membership of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as illegal. Aside the Federal Government, other defendants are the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the minister of external affairs.
The applicant in his originating summon, among others, wants the court to decide whether by the combined construction and interpretation of the provisions of Sections 1(1), 10 and 42(1)(a)(b) of the 1999 Constitution, it is constitutional for the 1st defendant (FG) to appropriate public funds and/or the commonwealth of Nigerians to fund her membership of the OIC or support any of its activity in any capacity.
Consequently, the applicant is praying the court to declare that the 1st defendant or any of the 36 Federating States, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja shall not adopt any religion as state religion.
“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 common wealth 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,” he prayed.
He therefore asked the court to void and terminate Nigeria’s membership of the OIC.
The applicant also prayed the court to make an order, delisting Nigeria as a member state of the organization, restrain her from appropriating public funds to sustain the activities of the body and any other order it may deem fit to make in the circumstance of the case.
Supported by 80-paragraph affidavit, deposed to, by the applicant, he averred that as a human rights activist, he has been involved in the defence and promotion of human rights in Africa for over a decade.
He swore: “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 interest of the poor, weak, illiterates, uninformed and vulnerable ones therein.
He averred that Nigeria is both a multi-ethnic and religious state inhabited by over 200 million citizens of over 500 ethnic groups, who speak over 270 different languages and identify with diverse cultures.
According to him, apart from Islam and Christianity being the dominant religions practiced in Nigeria, other religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Daoism, Atheism, Baha’i, Confucianism, Druze, Gnosticism, Jainism, Rastafarianism, Shinto, Skihism, Zoroastrianism, Traditional African Religions, Eckist, Armocs, gray message, Voodism, etc are being practiced by Nigerians.
He swore that Nigeria’s membership of OIC and the actions of the defendants are portraying Nigeria as an Islamic state locally and internationally, adding that Nigeria is not an Islamic state, but a secular state.
He urged the court to grant the application in the overall interest of justice, adding that unless the defendants are restrained, they will continue to violate the constitution of Nigeria and portray it as Islamic state against the provision of the constitution.
His application is also supported by a written address. No date has been fixed for hearing.