CAN Religious body rejects El-rufai censorship bill

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has rejected a bill presented to Kaduna State House of Assembly Governor Elrufai, seeking to restrict praying time and license all preachers.

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The executive bill which is seeking for a law to substitute the Kaduna State Religious Preaching Law, 1984, is already raising tension in the North Western State of Kaduna, having experienced similar crises in the past.

Over 2000 people were said to have been killed in the year 2000 in Kaduna when a bill seeking to introduce Islamic Law also known as Shari’a was taken to the State House of Assembly for passage.

We have rejected the bill” the secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna State Chapter told Pulse in an exclusive chat.

Rev Sunday Ibrahim who spoke on behalf of CAN said the religious body observed that areas in which the bill is seeking to punish offenders has already been taken care of by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Let me tell you, the Federal Government knows the existence of all churches because there is no church that is not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission” Rev Sunday said.   

For a government to start licensing preachers through CAN and JNI and another body to be appointed by the governor clearly shows that the government wants to take over religious activities. This is in conflict with our constitution that gives us right to religion.” the CAN secretary said.

Pulse gathered that the bill is in conflict with the Section Four of the Nigerian Constitution on the right to worship will licensed or not, all guest preachers invited to Kaduna for a programme.

According to the proposed bill obtained by Pulse, the governor will have the sole power to appoint individuals to issue or not issue licenses to people willing to preach in the state.

Section Four of the bill is demanding that the two major religions in the state - Christianity and Islam will be regulated by a committee of Jama’atu Nasil Islam with equal representation of Izala and Darika in case of Muslim and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for Christians.

An inter-faith Ministerial Committee will be appointed by the governor to exercise ‘supervisory’ control over CAN and JNI.  

But CAN which has already submitted an input to the Kaduna State House of Assembly, said they are withdrawing it because the earlier submission was not enough.

Our lawyers are already working on the papers. We are not in support of that bill. CAN is not one bloc. How can it issue licenses to different churches? Besides, issuing a license to a Christian preacher is totally against the command of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are not in support of this bill, and we reject it in its entirety” Rev Sunday added.  

The CAN Secretary who said Christian’s preachers are disciplined and well trained, added that even in developed world, government has no control over religion which is a fundamental human right.

The bill which has scaled through first and second reading and now at a committee level, had secured input from CAN and JNI but the religious body said the earlier submission to the State House of Assembly is not sufficient.

The bill which has been summarized into 15 points, is seeking to issue license to preachers for a period not exceeding one year. Guest preachers will be licensed within the period of their programmes in Kaduna.

According to the proposed bill, if passed into law, defaulters shall be liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years or a fine of N200,000 or both or have his license revoked.

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