At least four churches have been banned from holding religious service in a stadium in Ghana’s northern city of Tamale.
In addition to hosting sport activities, the Aliu Mahama Sports Stadium is used by a number of institutions, including religious organisations and political parties.
The stadium was recently renamed after the late vice president, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, who was the first Muslim to have that role in the predominantly Christian country.
Now, according to the Ghanaian website Starr News, the stadium’s authorities have recently denied some churches the opportunity to renew their permits enabling them to hold their services at the facility.
The affected churches are Grace Gospel Church, Holy Hill Worldwide, Converted Christian Ministry and Prophetic Fire Ministry, which have over 700 members in total.
Meanwhile, business activities, political gatherings and other social events have been unaffected, wrote Starr News.
The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and the Ghana Hajj Board, are among others to have seen their permits to operate from the facility renewed.
The affected churches denounced what they called an “attack” and claimed that they were being targeted simply because the stadium has been renamed after a Muslim.
A senior pastor at the Holy Hill Worldwide church, Godwin Sarfo, told Starr News he was shocked by the decision to eject them from the facility because records showed they had been honouring their obligations.
“In Tamale, [the] majority of people that watch my programme on NTV are Muslims – both Muslims and Christians have lived together peacefully. The Northern Region is a volatile ground, we don’t want any religious conflict; we don’t want any conflict of Muslim-Christian clashing,” he said.
“If the churches are being side-lined or sacked from the Tamale Sports Stadium, leaving other NGOs and governmental agencies, it is [a] direct attack on the churches. So whoever is behind this must come again and think well,” he warned.
More than 70% of Ghana’s 26 million inhabitants are Christians, living mainly in the south and central regions of the country.
The West African nation is seen as a model of political stability in the region, in comparison to neighbouring Burkina Faso (to the north), Ivory Coast (west) and Togo (east), which have each been affected by political turmoil in recent years.
But some observers point to an upsurge of Islamic proselytism, particularly in the northern regions of the country. Islamic groups, supported by Arab and Muslim countries have been reported to use economic incitements to attract youth.