The Chief Judgeof Akwa Ibom State, Justice Godswill Abraham who heard the case dismissed the matter after eight month of judicial trial and awarded N500,000 costs against the Atheist Society of Nigeria.
Commenting on the judgment, the State Attorney General Barrister Uwemedimo Nwoko noted that “They (ASN) have no jurisdiction to raise the issue because the Atheist definition of dictionary suggests people who do not believe in the existence of any Supreme Being capable of being worshiped by anybody.
“The provision they are seeking to rely on in the constitution is dealing with the right of government or prohibition of declaration of a state religion in Nigeria.
“Akwa Ibom State has not declared Christianity as state religion but that does not take anything from the fact that Akwa Ibom state is a Christian state because the population is make up of over 99.9 percent of Christian.
“We have the right to choose to build a Christian worship centre in Akwa Ibom State; beautiful enough the court has agreed with us that they have no locus standard to challenge the action of government.
“If any other group decide to have a worship centre and they approach government where there is resources government can also build a worship centre for them,” the Attorney General stated.
The Atheist body seems not satisfied with the judgement as the President of ASN, Adebayo Opadeyi said they are contemplating making an appeal. He said that next line of action of the body will be decided after due consultation with their lawyers.
Opadeyi, in a statement co-released with ASN Secretary, Freeborn Amadi after getting the judgment insisted that the matter was a battle to uphold the state’s constitutional obligation to be neutral on matters of religion.
“The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria prohibits the entanglement of religion and state, yet in Akwa Ibom State, an enormous 8,500-seat worship centre is under construction.
“Today (Friday) the High Court of Akwa Ibom State, Uyo Judicial Division failed to rule this entanglement of religion and state unconstitutional.
“This is a bleak day for religious freedom in Nigeria. This is license for states and the Federal Government to use public money to support their preferred religions and to discriminate against other religions.” Said a disappointed Opadeyi