Obaseki loses suit to control CSOs, churches

A federal High Court, Benin Division has declared that Edo State Government lacked the Constitutional right to interfere, monitor public gatherings and undertake the registration Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Religious Organizations, Orphanages, Creche, Elderly’ Peoples Homes in the State.

Justice B. O. Quadri delivered the judgement on Wednesday June 19th 2024 in a suit marked FHC/B/CS/131/2021 brought to the Court by the Claimants, Curtis Ogbebor, Registered Trustees of Freedom Ambassadors Organization against the Defendants, Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki and the State Attorney General.

The Claimants sought the relief of the Court, following a public announcement by the State government, requesting for Registration of Civil Society Organizations, Religious Organizations, Orphanages, Creche, Elderly Peoples Homes and other affiliate bodies
with the Government in October 2021.

Justice Quadri in a landmark judgement, noted.that it’s the federal Government through National Assembly that has the Constitutional right to call for the registration and monitoring activities of CSO’s and Non-Governmental Organizations, Faith-based Organizations and other groups in the State.

Commenting on the verdict, Mr Nelson Irevbude, the Claimants Counsel, pledged the commitment of Freedom Ambassadors Organization in advancing the cause of justice for Nigerian people at all time.

He said, “we went to Court stating that this ought not to be. Section 32 of the 1999 Constitution provides that it’s only the federal government through the National Assembly that can make laws regarding the operations and activities of Civil Society Organizations. That is very clear”.

“So, the question we posed before the Court when we filed our original processes instituted vide an originating motion”, he said.

Responding, a Benin based Human Rights activist, Curtis Ogbebor described the judgement as victory for both Freedom Ambassadors Organization and the people of Nigeria.

He said, “if we have not challenge the plot by the government in court, Nigeria would have been gravitating towards anarchy. Nigeria is a nation govern by the rule of law”.

“The State government announcement was an affront on Nigeria democracy and attempt to ambush Civil Society Organizations as well as strangulate their voices.

“But, we said No! And approached the Court for adjudication. This judgement will continue to encourage us. We are happy.

Ogbebor reminded governments at all levels that there is no ruler or elected leader that has the power to determine the faith of Nigerians without recourse to the rule of law”, he said.

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