A human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, has called for the abolition of Christian and Muslim Pilgrimage Commissions as the government has no business using taxpayers’ funds for religious exercises.
Effiong said this in a series of posts on X, after the Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC) said it had chosen Turkey as the destination for this year’s pilgrimage.
The commission said the ongoing conflict in Gaza informed its decision to jettison Israel for Turkey for this year’s pilgrimage.
Reacting, Effiong said that Christianity and Islam are not the only religions to warrant the government spending humongous sums yearly to sponsor Christian and Muslims pilgrims on pilgrimage.
He added that by virtue of Section 12 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Nigeria is a secular state and therefore has no business sponsoring any religion.
He said, “The government has no business using taxpayers’ money to sponsor religious exercises.
“If you want to go to Mecca or Jerusalem, it should be your personal affair. You are not supposed to depend on government bureaucracy to achieve that.
“Islam and Christianity are not the only religions in Nigeria. Pilgrimage may be compulsory for you, (but) it is not compulsory for the Nigerian State.
“Who pays the salaries of the employees of the two commissions? How about the subsidisation of dollars for pilgrims?
“If you want to go to Mecca or Jerusalem, get a visa, buy ticket, board flight and proceed accordingly.
“Section 12 of the Constitution makes it clear that the government shall not adopt any religion as State religion.
“Creating Commissions to promote the causes of two religions over others negates the secularity principle enshrined in Section 12 of the Constitution.
“Lastly, we have been going on pilgrimage to Mecca and Jerusalem for decades but the country is getting worse. Prayers will not change Nigeria. Our problems are not spiritual.”