On July 26, 2019 Chief Justice Godwin Abraham, dismissed the Atheist Society of Nigeria’s (ASN’s) lawsuit which complained state funding of a Christian Worship Centre in Akwa Ibom state is unconstitutional and promotion of the worship Centre by the state Governor, Udom Emmanuel in his official capacity, was ultra vires and an abuse of his powers.
After consultation with their lawyers, our affiliate, ASN has resolved to appeal against the decision of the Chief Justice and will, if necessary, take the matter to the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
The appeal, now lodged at the Appeal Court at Calabar, states that the Chief Justice violated ASN’s constitutional right to a fair hearing and occasioned a grave miscarriage of justice. It says the judge attempted to harass and intimidate the claimant. The judge failed to take account of legal arguments and copious evidence submitted by ASN and took the side of the government on every issue despite the fact the Government produced no evidence whatsoever to support its case.
This is excellent news. Illegal government support for religious causes is rife in Nigeria and ranges from building churches and Mosques to spending millions of dollars annually sponsoring Muslims to travel to Mecca for the annual Hajj. If ASN can win this test case, the door will be open to challenging all the other cases of governments unconstitutionally supporting religions in Nigeria.
For the avoidance of doubt, neither ASN nor AAI has any objection to religious people building places of worship and going on pilgrimages—it is their constitutional right to do so. Our concern is the illegal use of public money and resources to fund and promote such religious endeavors.
AAI is making a major contribution to the legal costs of this case and we’ll keep our members and supporters informed as the case progresses. If you hate to see abuses of religious power go unchallenged, please consider making a donation towards our costs.