Asaba Court Adjourns Suit on Nigeria’s Membership of Islamic Organisations

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Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba

The Federal High Court sitting in Asaba, Delta State, has adjourned till September 29, 2016 hearing in a suit challenging Nigeria’s membership of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and other international Islamic bodies.

The suit with number FHC/ASB/CS/11/2016, is also challenging the proposal by the Federal Government to obtain funds from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to finance the deficits of the 2016 budget.

Presiding judge, Justice A.O. Faji, who adjourned the suit, ordered that hearing notice should be sent to the 5th defendant who was not represented in court yesterday.
Dr Nwankwo Tony Nwaezeigwe filed the suit against the federal government on behalf of the Nigeria Civil War and Genocide Research Network.

Joined in the suit as second, third, fourth and fifth defendants are the Attorney-General of the Federation, President of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives and the National Assembly, respectively.

In the suit, the plaintiff is praying the court to nullify Nigeria’s membership of OIC, Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Against Terrorism, Eight Developing Islamic Countries (D8) and Islamic Development Bank (IDB).

In the alternative, the plaintiff wants the court to compel the federal government and the Attorney-General who are the first and second defendants respectively, to withdraw Nigeria’s membership of the Islamic organisations.

The plaintiff is further seeking an order of injunction restraining the 2nd and 3rd defendants from “entering into any agreement, treaty, character, in violation of the provision of Section 10 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended.”

“An order of injunction restraining the 3rd and 4th defendants from authorizing the 1st and 2nd defendants to issue or obtain any Islamic bond otherwise known as ‘SUKUK’ for the purpose of financing any aspect of the 2016 Appropriation Act and/or budget deficit.
“An order of injunction restraining the defendants particularly the 1st and 2nd defendants from further enlisting Nigeria into the membership of any organisation meant solely for Islamic countries or any organisation bearing any religious connotation.”

In the originating summons, counsel to the plaintiff, Solomon Nnadi, contended that Nigeria’s continuous membership of OIC and other Islamic organisations runs counter to Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which proclaims Nigeria as a secular state.

He further argued that Islamic bond otherwise known as SUKUK or funds from IDB cannot validly be used to fund the 2016 budget deficit by the federal government having regards to the secularity of Nigeria.