By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
Niger State House of Assembly has reaffirmed it’s commitment to pass the bill for a law to establish a bureau for religious affairs in the state.
Speaker of the House, Hon. Ahmed Marafa said the legislature would work on the bill to ensure that an enabling legislation is enacted to empower the state to establish a regulatory body for religious affairs in the overall interest and development of the state.
The Speaker who received members of the state Forum of Imams in his office led by Chairman of the forum and Chief Imam of the Minna Central Mosque, Alhaji Isah Fari, assured that the state Lawmakers were determined to see the bill through.
The bill when passed into law, would lead to the establishment of a state organ for the control of religious activities and practices by religious bodies and their adherents to guarantee a level playing field for all religious beliefs and check excesses that could result in friction.
The bill which has been with the state lawmakers since the last Assembly has been criticized by some groups in the state who condenmed it as a move to sniffle the fundamental right to free worship.
During the seventh Assembly when the bill was first introduced to the legislature, proponents of the move which was a private bill, had argued that the spiral rise of ultra views by some religious bodies could, if not regulated, lead to unsavory developments and upheavals in the state.
But those opposed to it, mostly from outside the legislature, said the bill, if allowed to sail through and barthe as a law, would have set the stage for government’s interference into religion.
But Hon. Marafa while receiving the members of the forum of Imams in the state, said the essence of the eventual legislation was to curb such excesses that could lead to breach of the peace and negate the rights of the state as the ultimate moderator of all the rights of citizens including corporate individuals.
He said the envisaged bureau is expected to arrest such issues that may stem from the observance and practices of religious beliefs by individuals and groups against the collective well-being of all and sundry.
The Speaker argued that though right is good, but regulation and moderation in human conducts was better.
The forum of Imams led by the Chief Imam of the Minna Central Mosque, pressed for the quick passage of the bill into law for the good of man and his society.
The forum argued that such a law that would lead to the eventual regulations of religious activities was necessary. The forum therefore pledged it’s support to the legislature.