By; Abdull-Azeez Ahmed Kadir, Kaduna.
Following the meeting called by Kaduna State Government with Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), to address grey areas on the proposed preaching regulation bill, the Christian body said no state government has the power to enact any law that will supercede the constitution of the federation.
Chairman, Kaduna State Chapter of CAN, Bishop George Dodo made this assertion after more than two hours closed door meeting with the State Deputy Governor, Arc Barnabas Yusuf Bala in Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna.
Dodo who led other Christian clergies to the meeting, said some of the grey areas of the executive bill before the State House of Assembly are still being studied and CAN cannot give the details of the gray areas now publicly.
“I don’t think government has the power to enact laws that supercedes what is in the constitution. The constition guarantees every human being the right to practice his or her religion. I don’t think there is government that will enact a law in that regard.
“After all government is always asking the people wether they are Muslims, Christians, traditionalists to pray for government in their places of worship, in their homes. So how can they enact a law that will ban the practice of religion” he queried.
Asked what is the position of CAN after the meeting with the Deputy Governor and the explanation, he said “the position of CAN is that our final decision, when we are through with the studies, memo will reach the State House of Assembly. And the day of the public hearing, we will explain more. But as for now it will be premature to say this is the position of CAN until we finish our discussions”.
Earlier before going into closed door session, the deputy Governor said that during Campaign, Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai always reiterated the need for synergy between the state and the Church realising that such partnership in other countries has resulted in accelerated development.
He said with such partnership, if there are issues that need clarification, such are made available.
“It is for that reason that the attention of Government having been drawn to the expected concern the Church has for one of the numerous legislations that this state government decided to, the law that is currently undergoing legislative scrutiny. It is not surprising that of cause our religious leaders pick serious interest in the content of that piece of legislation”
He however asserted that “there have been reactions a little bit off the mark, but we thought that it is important that we call this meeting with the leaders of the Christian community to throw more light on this legislation”.
He added that “We are doing this and it is very important to note that subsequently, we understand the workings of our democracy. As you are aware, there are quiet a number of issues that need to be reworked; we have obsolete laws, we have the need for new laws and the need to amend existing laws, we have the need to abrogate the laws.”
He stressed that the moves above can be initiated from any direction; government, CAN, Legislature who are even elected with the sole purpose of law making as well as the general public.
He said unlike the military era, such legislation would go through a patern that will engage public opinion.
The legislation he stressed “is meant to regulate our mode of religious practice” hence the reason the government called CAN to educate them about the process of the legislation.
Bantex said he expect the Assembly to invite JNI, CAN and other stakeholders to make their inputs during public hearing before it becomes laws.
“We are hoping that by the end of the meeting, all the grey areas that have been misunderstood which has led to, in some cases, even the pronouncement of death for us by Christians will be better understood and probably such people will withdraw their fatwa.
“A Pastor has already declared a fatwa on us and I believe that by the time we go through, we are hopping that they will see the harmlessness in this piece of legislation and the intendment of it which is that our state remains peaceful” he concluded.
On why the State Chapter pf Jama;atul Nasir Islam (JNI) was not invited for the same meeting, no government official was ready to give an answer. But sources within said the Governor who was out of the country at the time of this meeting, is expected to meet with the Muslim body at a leter date when he returns.
By; Abdull-Azeez Ahmed Kadir, Kaduna.