Ayikoi Otoo casts doubt over Supreme Court discrimination suit

Lawyer Nii Ayikoi Otoo says he suspects that the Supreme Court may not be able to grant some of their 11 reliefs being sought in a landmark religious discrimination case.

Nii Ayikoi Otoo told Joy News “some of these declarations could be sought but whether the Supreme Court can genuinely grant them is another matter.”

His comments come after a private citizen filed a suit at the Supreme Court seeking some 11 reliefs.

Among the reliefs is ”a declaration that all schools in Ghana, whether private, public or state-sponsored( except religious schools set up primarily to train students as ministers, etc, of particular religions) have an obligation to recognize, respect and give effect to the right of freedom of conscience, belief and religion guaranteed under 21(1)(b)(c) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana by not forcing students of other faiths to attend or participate in partisan and sectional religious activities, such as Sunday Worship or Morning Devotion, against their will and/or the tenets of their faiths.

The religious loyalties of Ghanaians have been aroused after simmering claims of discrimination against non-Christian in mission schools and vice versa grabbed national attention.

The GES had directed last week that morning devotion in mission schools are compulsory irrespective of a student’s religion.

But in the 2015 State of the Nation address the President threatened to sanction schools who force down a particular religious practice on students of other faiths.

The build-up of directives and threats got another layer of attention after leaders within the Christian community called off the President’s bluff as unwarranted.

It wasn’t long before the National Chief Imam in another statement explained that Muslims in Ghana are only insisting on their constitutional rights which they believe are “directly affected by what we see as clear and deliberate violations of our religious freedom guaranteed by the constitution”.

Both Christian and Muslim leaders urged dialogue with the Peace Council as an imminent solution.

But before any peace meeting could develop, a private citizen, Gershon Nii Lamptey has headed to the Supreme Court seeking an interpretation of the 1992 constitution which describes Ghana as a secular state with no official religion and therefore intolerant of discrimination.

Weighing in on the matter, Nii Ayikoi Otoo picked up on a relief seeking a declaration on public funding for mission schools.

“I don’t see how they can describe Islamic faith schools as underprivileged”, he said on Newsnight on Joy FM.

He said if a school is private then it behooves on its managers to look for funding and not expect government funding for charity-based organizations. He pointed out that some Muslims travel to Saudi Arabia to secure funding for its activities such as Islamic university and building mosques.

He does not believe there is a “clear attempt to discriminate” against Muslims.

He said two Islamic activities have been given a national holiday status – Eid  al- Adha and Eid  al- Fitr.

According to the legal brain, the claim that Muslim-based schools are under-funded and underprivileged are not believable.

He concluded that the Ghana Education Service may have spoken too early as its directive faces opposition at the Supreme Court which is set to hear a landmark case on religious discrimination in schools.

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Story by Ghana|Myjoyonline|Edwin Appiah|edwin.appiah@myjoyonline.com

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