Controversial Preaching Bill: El-Rufai Meets CAN

El-Rufai Source:


As the plan by the Kaduna State to regulate religious preaching continues to generate condemnations from both Christian and Muslims leaders, Governor Nasiru El-Rufa’ yesterday met with officials of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the state for their support.
The governor met with the officials of CAN behind closed doors at Government House.
The state Chief Executive Officer was represented by the Deputy Governor of the state, Mr Barnabas Bala,
Speaking to journalists shortly after the closed meeting the state CAN Chairman, Bishop George Dodo stated that the meeting was centred on the controversial bill, adding that the association would not make any comment on the issue for now.
He explained that it would be premature to comment on the controversial topic now until the body was through with the study, adding that memo will be sent to the Kaduna State Assembly and that on the day of public hearing, CAN will explain more.
On the fears in some quarters that the essence of that bill was to muzzle religious freedom, the CAN chairman said he does think any governor would want to make laws that will supersede the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
According to him, “I don’t think any governor has the power to enact law that will supersede what is in the constitution. The constitution guarantees every person the right to practice his/her religion; I don’t think there is any governor that can enact a law in that regard. Governors ask for prayers in all places of worship, so how would they enact a law that will ban the practice of religion”.
However, several Islamic groups, including the state Council of Imams and Ulamas, had rejected the controversial bill.
The government while explaining the essence of the bill had stated the Religious Preaching Bill is to “protect the state from religious extremism and hate speech.
On his part, the governor’s image maker, Mr Samuel Aruwan, in a statement after the closed door meeting with CAN officials, stated that the government was going ahead with the bill, adding that the bill has not in any way affected people’s right to religious freedom.
“This is not a new law, it has existed since 1984, with amendments in 1987 and 1996”.he said in the statement.
According to him, “The bill, by virtue of Section 45(1) of the 1999 Constitution, is in order and does not offend the provisions of the constitution. The provisions of the bill are in tandem with the Constitution. There is nothing in the bill that suggests any effort to abolish, stop or derogate on the freedom of religion and religious beliefs.”
He continued, “It merely seeks to ensure that religious preaching and activities in the state are conducted in ways that do not threaten public order, public safety, and to protect the rights and freedom of other persons”,