Few days after Kaduna state governor, Nasir El Rufai, forwarded a bill to the state House of Assembly, stating that religious leaders in the state will have to obtain a one year license to preach in the state, an Edo state based pastor and the Senior Pastor of Omega Fire Ministries (OFM), Apostle Johnson Suleiman, called on the governor to revoke the bill now or die.
According to Suleiman, El Rufai has no right to regulate the activities of religious leaders when he has not regulated the activities of traditionalist in the state. He said before he, El Rufai, became governor, they were men of God and that they will still remain men of God when he leaves office.
“I want to warn the governor of Kaduna state. Many times I have read in the papers how he abused Jesus and Christians came after him. He said that they are joking that Nothing can happen. I am talking to you, Kaduna Governor. Listen, I am not against sanitizing a state but you say people should get licence for preaching; it is not applicable in Nigeria. Even a herbalist does not get a license for practicing herbalism. When you say license for preaching, then you are standing against the constitution that says freedom of worship. I have no problem, we can test powers now. There are certain laws that cannot happen in this country. Not when Nigeria is under God. If need be, over this matter, heaven will intervene. I am saying this specifically to the executive governor of Kaduna, revoke this law or die!” he said
Read what the bill is about below…
The Religious Regulation Bill, designed to replace the Religious Regulation Edict of 1984, is geared towards regulating Christianity and Islam as it seeks to create an inter-faith Ministerial Committee to be appointed by the governor and exercise control over Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, and the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN. Highpoints of the bill include:
*The ministerial committee shall issue licenses to religious bodies.
*Without such licenses, you cannot preach.
*No external preacher can preach in Kaduna without a permit.
*The committee has the power to refuse to issue licenses No criteria are given as to what will qualify one to have a license issued to him or for one to be denied a license.
The bill empowers JNI and CAN to keep records of churches and mosques including data of preachers. The law criminalizes the use of religious CDs, flash drive and other communication gadgets except in churches, mosques or other places of worship or personal houses. The implication is that you cannot listen to Christian tapes in your car or at any place except your house and in a church.
If you preach without a license, you are guilty of an offence punishable by two years imprisonment. If you hold any Christian gathering even in a church and use loud speaker (microphone) after 8.00 p.m, you are guilty of an offence punishable with two years imprisonment.
If you listen to a message in your car, you are guilty of an offence punishable by two years imprisonment. If you hold a crusade or any programme or any other kind of programme and use a loudspeaker at the said programme as long as it is not a church, you are guilty of an offence punishable by two years imprisonment.
The bill criminalizes the abuse of religious books and makes it punishable by two years imprisonment. (It does not define what ‘abuse of religious books’ mean. It criminalizes the use of derogatory terms in describing any religion and makes it punishable by two years imprisonment. It does not define what ‘use of derogatory terms in describing any religion’ means.)
Every preacher will have to obtain one year license (renewable every year) or risk two years imprisonment. If you invite any external preacher (i.e. preacher from outside Kaduna State), such a person must be licensed for the duration of his/her stay and the body issuing the license has the right to reject the external preacher if it feels he is not qualified to preach in the state.