The Anambra Government has banned religious bodies from using either public schools or its facilities to conduct religious services across the state.
The state Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr Don Adinuba announced the ban on Friday in an interview with newsmen in Onitsha.
Adinuba said the ban became imperative because of the ongoing seeming ownership tussle of Bishop Crowder Memorial School, Onitsha, being contested between the state and the Diocese on the Niger, Anglican Communion. The Church, through its legal Secretary, Mr Tabugbo Anaeto, is claiming ownership of the school.
Members of the Anglican Church recently staged a peaceful protest and subsequently released a statement, accusing the state government of its alleged refusal from allowing it to assume ownership of its property.
Anaeto, in a statement, alleged that the state government had refused to make public the report of the fact finding committee on the ownership of the school set up by former Gov. Peter Obi. But the commissioner dismissed the allegation, saying that the school established by the government during the colonial era had operated since then by the state government till date. “The original name of the school began as Local Authority School under the colonial masters; it never belonged to any church.
“If they really lay claim of ownership, they should come forward with documents to prove that, but we do not want to engage in a press war with any organization or individual in the state. “This will not be in the interest of the people of the state to engage in any kind of press war,” the commissioner said.
Adinuba explained that the Deputy Governor had granted an oral plea by Anglican Church to allow it conduct mid-week services in the school on Wednesdays. The commissioner said the church had been conducting mid week service within the school premises but expressed surprise that it suddenly started erecting structures within the school compound without authorisation.
According to him, “what you know is not your own, why take it by blackmail,” the commissioner queried, saying that every property owned by churches were documented by the state government. “The Anambra Government has, therefore, banned religious services from being conducted in publicly owned secondary schools across the state based on our experience. “This is because if they are allowed to worship there, it may turn out to become their own without documentary evidence,” Adinuba said.
Nigerians are a highly religious people and are not pleased with this outcome because they are of the belief that one of the ways to instill moral principles into a child is by introducing religion into their lives as early as possible. The fear that a child might not possibly turned out the way he or she is expected puts great fear in the heart of parents hence the strong emphasis on religion.