The constitutionality or otherwise of Muslim students joining their Christian counterparts for religious activities has landed at the Supreme Court
Another matter before the court is the constitutionality or otherwise of offering prayers at state functions. There is a raging debate and growing
tension over whether or not Muslim students are bound by school rules and regulations including attending morning devotion.
To put the matter to rest, a Ghanaian, Gershon Nii Lampcey, is invoking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to stop the government, educational and other institutions from forcing their Christian faith on other faiths.
The plaintiff has, through the Attorney- General, sued all government agencies practising what he deems as an affront to minority groups rights to freedom of association as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
A statement of claim, accompanying the writ, filed on behalf of the plaintiff by his lawyer, Mr Justin Pwavra, is asking the court to issue an "order of perpetual injunction restraining the Republic of Ghana, its arms of government, ministries, departments, agencies, etc, and any private body or institution for that matter from condoning or forcing directly and constructively 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."
It is seeking a further "order of perpetual injunction restraining the Republic of Ghana, departments and agencies from sanctioning and endorsing partisan religious activities or offering preferential treatment to some religions during state events or activities when such treatment is not accorded all other religions in Ghana, particularly Islam and African Traditional Religion, on an equal footing"
The plaintiff is also urging the court to declare that upon a true and proper interpretation of the letter and spirit of the Constitution, particularly, articles 17,21(1)(b)(c), 35(1)(5)(6), 37(l) and/or 56 of the constitution, the Republic of Ghana is a secular Republic and recognizes no official or state religion and shall at all times maintain by itself, its organs of government, ministries, agancies and departments, a posture of religious neutrality or balance in its dealings with all faiths.
Other reliefs being sought by the plaintiff include a declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of articles 17 and 33(5) the concept of minority rights, particularly, a minority's right to non-discrimination and special measures to protect its identity constitute part and parcel of the fundamental human rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.
Another prayer of the plaintiff 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 recognise, respect and give effect to the right of freedom of conscience, belief and religion guaranteed under articles 21(lXbXc) 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."
According to the plaintiff, in the unlikely event that the compulsory attendance of partisan religious activities or events by all students regardless of their faith was upheld by the court, the court should declare that pursuant to articles 17, 21(l)(b)(c), 35(l)(5)(6)(a) and/or 37(1) of the Constitution, the State has an obligation to provide equal support to all faith-based institutions whether Christian, Muslim or African Traditional Religion whether or not these institutions seek to promote their religious identity and faiths through their mission schools.
The other alternative declaration being sought by the plaintiff is an order to the effect that pursuant to articles l7, 21(l)(b)(c), 35(1)(5)(6)(a) and/or 37(1) of the 1992 Constitution, "the State has an obligation to reverse historical imbalance in the funding of mission schools by devoting more resources to fund under-privileged mission schools particularly those belonging to the Islamic faith and African Traditional Religion ,if any."