Chiefs may not compel pagan worship, court rules

The Bayelsa State High Court has upheld a petition prohibiting local chiefs from compelling Christians to participate in pagan cults

The Bayelsa State High Court has upheld a petition brought by members of the Church of Nigeria prohibiting local chiefs from compelling them to participate in the worship of pagan gods. Finding in favor of the twelve petitioners Anglican and Protestant ministers and lay leaders, including Mr. Hitler Adumom, the court ruled the Okoroba Council of Chiefs and the chief priest of the Ogidiga shrine could not compel 442 members of the tribe from participating in the Eyalikai festival and worship of Ogidiga deity. Justice L. M. Boufini held that under Sections 34 and 38 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Article 5 of the African Charter of Human and Peoples Ratification and Enforcement Act, freedom of religion and conscience were guaranteed to all people. The court further issued an injunction ordering local tribal leaders to halt a campaign of intimidation of Christian evangelists and from “further disruption of the propagation of the teaching of Christian religion, by prayers, crusaders, open air preaching, sharing of tracts and Bibles and other Christian gatherings.”


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