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Lawyer takes Federal Government, others to court over sponsorship of pilgrimage


HajjA Lagos-based lawyer, Chief  Malcolm Omirhobo, has sued the Federal Government, attorney general of the federation, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the National Hajj Commision and others before the Federal High Court, Lagos, over States sponsorship of pilgrims.

The plaintiff, who filed the action for the enforcement of  his fundamental rights and those of the generality of Nigerians, said granting of concessionary exchange rate by the Federal Government to  Muslims going to 2016 Hajj in Saudi Arabia for the purpose of purchasing their Pilgrim Travelling Allowance (PTA), at the rate of N197 to $1.00, violates Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution.

Joined as respondents in the suit, marked as FHC/L/CS/1119/16, are the 36 State governments, their Attorney Generals, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and the Muslim and Christian  Pilgrims Welfare Boards in all the States.

The plaintiff maintained that the action is against the prevailing market price of N318 to $1.00, which he described as preferential, illegal, unlawful and a violation of the applicant’s rights to freedom of worship.

Omirhobo also stated that the granting of concessionary exchange rate to Muslims going on pilgrim without bank charges and commission amounts to economic waste.

He is therefore, seeking an order compelling the Federal Government, Attorney General of the Federation and the Central Bank of Nigeria to rescind the concessionary exchange rate of  N197 to $1.00 and make Muslim pilgrims pay the ongoing rate of N318.

He added that the concessionary rate is a violation of his freedom of worship as provided for in Section 38 and 42 of the constitution of 1999.

He prayed the court to order the 1st and 2nd respondents not to spend the N500 million earmarked for pilgrimage services in 2016 budget, contrary to section 10 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and remit the money back to the appropriate authority to be redirected for more meaningful purpose to the benefit of Nigerians.

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