The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has implored the Federal High Court in Lagos to dismiss a suit seeking the removal of the Arabic inscriptions on naira notes.
This was contained in a counter-affidavit filed by the MURIC Chairman, Ishaq Akintola, on Friday.
This was after the court granted their permission to be listed as defendants alongside the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Federal Government, the President, and the Attorney General of the Federation, who were the original defendants in the suit.
The lawsuit was filed by a Lagos-based lawyer and rights activist, Chief Malcolm Omirhobo, before Justice Mohammed Liman.
Omirbobo contended that having Arabic inscriptions on the naira notes portrays Nigeria as an Islamic state, contrary to the country’s constitutional status of a secular state.
Omirhobo prayed the court to order the CBN to replace the Arabic inscriptions with either English, which is the country’s official language, or any of Nigeria’s three main indigenous languages – Hausa, Yoruba, or Igbo.
According to the lawyer, with the Arabic inscriptions on the naira notes, the CBN has been violating sections 10 and 55 of the Nigerian constitution, which makes the country a secular state.
However, in its affidavit, the MURIC said the lawyer’s action was motivated by “religious bigotry, religious intolerance and outright hatred for Islam.”
Contrary to Omirhobo’s argument, MURIC and Akintola said there was nowhere in the constitution where it was stated that Nigeria is a secular state.
They also argued that Arabic is just a language and not synonymous with Islam, saying the Bible, which is the Christian holy book, is printed in the Arabic language in Israel, Egypt, Palestine, Lybia, Syria, and among other countries.
Opposing Omirhobo’s prayer that the Arabic inscriptions on naira notes should be replaced with English, MURIC and Akintola said there was no law making English Nigeria’s official language.
They said should Omirhobo’s suit succeed, the CBN and the Federal Government “will incur colossal sums of money to discard the currencies with Arabic inscription and print new Nigerian currencies.”