Christians in Lagos, yesterday, joined their contemporaries countryside in condemning the new Federal Government’s Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020 insisting that the national assembly removes a section considered offensive to Christians.
Speaking for the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in a statement yesterday in Abuja, the Special Assistant (Media & Communications) to CAN president, Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, described the Act as a time bomb waiting to explode, adding that while the association was not against government fighting corruption, it completely rejected the idea of bringing the church, grouped among NGOs, under government control.
Making reference to Section 839 (1) & (2), CAN described the Act, recently assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari, as unacceptable, ungodly, reprehensible and ill wind that would blow no one any good.
Section 839 empowers the Commission to suspend trustees of an association (the church inclusive) and appoint interim managers to manage the affairs of the association.
CAN asked the Federal Government to amend the document immediately to avert trouble in the country, alleging that it was a declaration of war on Christianity and the Federal Government should not implement it until religious institutions were exempted from it.
President Buhari, the statement added, should return the law to the National Assembly for immediate amendment.
Oladeji argued that Nigeria should not be compared with any other nation in matters of relationship between religious institutions and government, saying Nigerian’s religions are tied to their life.
He said, “The church cannot be controlled by government because of its spiritual responsibilities and obligations. We recall that during the first term of the President, there was a public hearing conducted by the National Assembly on the Non-Governmental Organisations Bill, tagged ‘‘Bill for an Act To Provide For The Establishment of the Non-Governmental Organisations Regulatory Commission for the Supervision, Co-ordination and Monitoring of Non-Governmental Organisations,’’ which was attended by CAN and many NGOs.”
He recalled that at the public hearing, the Bill that sought to bring religious organisations and NGOs under the control and influence of government was rejected because it would rank the church as a secular institution under secular control.
The inclusion of the controversial section, he said, came as a surprise because CAN thought it was expunged until the Act was made public after the President’s assent.
“How can government sack trustees of a church which it contributed no dime to establish? How can a secular and political minister be final authority on the affairs and management of another institution, which is not political? For example, how can a non-Christian head of government’s ministry be the one to determine the running of the church? It is an invitation to trouble that the government does not have power to manage. Let the government face the business of providing infrastructure for the people. Let them focus on better health provision, food, education, adequate security, employment, etc. The government should not be a busybody in a matter that does not belong to it. The government does not have the technical expertise to run the church of God because of its spiritual nature”
Oladeji warned that if government would insist on imposing the law on the church, it meant a declaration of war on Christianity and plan to destroy the church.
“If you cannot give us good amenities of life, we would not allow you to take away our liberty to worship our maker,” he added.
He called on Nigerians to prevail on the Federal Government to suspend the law because it was not needed in the country.
He described the Act as anti-democratic and paving the way for dictatorship.
“What was the essence of the public hearing you called us to attend when you had made up your mind not to consider the position of Christians at all, which we presented during the public hearing,” he queried.
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