Preaching Bill Aimed At Curbing Religious Extremism – El-rufa’i Tells Can
BEVERLY HILLS, March 16, (THEWILL) – Nasiru El-Rufa'I, Kaduna State Governor has explained that the controversial bill on preaching in the state was aimed at curbing religious extremism and protecting the state against religious extremist.
The Governor, represented by his deputy, Mr Barnabas Bantex, stated this during a closed door meeting with the leadership of the Kaduna state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) at the Government House, Kaduna.
The meeting was summoned following growing apprehension and anxiety over the bill which has been reportedly rejected by several Islamic groups, including the state Council of Imams and Ulamas, and a number of Christian Clerics and association.
“This is not a new law. It has existed since 1984, with amendments in 1987 and 1996. The military governments which created the law were responding to outbreaks of religious violence such as Maitatsine in 1983; the riots after the Kafanchan incidence of 1987,” he said
“The legislation is passing through a democratic process, with all the transparency that the public hearing and other legislative processes of the House of Assembly entails.
“Proposing this amendment is a deliberate decision by the government to subject the law to a democratic process, rather than just enforce the provisions of the edict as passed since 1984.”
Briefing newsmen after the meeting, the state CAN Chairman, Bishop George Dodo, confirmed that the meeting was held to discuss the controversial bill, but said the association would not make any comment for now.
“When we are through with the study, memo will be sent to the state Assembly; on the day of public hearing we will explain more, but now it would be premature to say the position of CAN,” he said.
The Governor's spokesman, Mr Samuel Aruwan, in a statement after the closed door meeting with CAN officials, declared that the government is going ahead with the bill.
“This is not a new law, it has existed since 1984, with amendments in 1987 and 1996,” the statement read.
“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.
“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,” he emphasised.
Story by David Oputah