Equity International Initiative (Ell), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), has vowed to drag Akwa Ibom State Government to court over the attack and demolition of worship centres in the state as a result of enforcement of the COVID-19 preventive guidelines.
It however, gave the state government a seven-day ultimatum to come out publicly and apologize and also compensate all affected worship centres.
This was disclosed by the Country Director (Ell), Comrade Chris lyama, while briefing journalists in Jos.
“Permit me to remind you once again that Ell’s core mandate is to promote religious freedom around the world and it’s on this basis we are addressing you again today with recent sad development in Akwa-Ibom, Ogun, Lagos States and FCT.
“Equity International Initiative has been monitoring with keen interest the continuous harassment and intimidation by task force officials put together to monitor the compliance of the lockdown directives by the government of Akwa-lbom, Ogun, Lagos States and FCT.
“It is sad to say that the following states task force have gone beyond their limit into taking laws into their hands. Ell is worried about the too much use of force which have cost the untimely death of innocent citizens of the respective states in a time where ordinary Nigerians have been experiencing hardship because of the kind of irresponsible leadership as a country.”
He further explained that: “Section 38( 1) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) provides: Every person shall be entitled to freedom a/ thought, conscience and religious Including freedom to change religion or belief and (either in community with others and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his or her belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
“The Akwa-Ibom state government and the COVID-19 taskforce breached the constitution by attacking worshippers on the 21st, June, 2020.
“Equity International Initiative vehemently condemn the attack and demolition of worship centres in Akwa-lbom state and other part of the country.
“Ell is calling on the state government to reframe from further demonizing, embarrassing and shameful act which grossly violate the right of freedom of worship as enshrined in Section 38(1) of the 1999 constitution.
“Ell is giving the Akwa-lbom state government 7 days ultimatum to publicly apologize and compensate all affected worship centres they have attack and demolished.”
The Country Director further stated that EII remains committed to promoting “justice, equity, truth and religious freedom in Nigeria and around the world”.
“We hereby call on Lagos, Ogun and other states that have continue to lockdown worship centres to immediately open up this religious centres to enable worshippers have access to their facility. We shall not hesitate to take further actions against the respective states if they do not heed to our demand,” he stressed.
An Executive Director, Comrade Steve Aluko, also said that: “The fact about COVID-19 is that, the world over, nobody can say when this pandemic will end.
“Even in other climes, there are believes in supernatural beings to heal the pandemic, so citizens should be allowed to freely worship, and should observe the preventive guidelines.”