Religious bill: Christian Clerics vow to follow court ruling to Supreme Court

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna State chapter has vowed to pursue the recent ruling made by a Kaduna Court in favour of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) on religious preaching bill in case the state government appeals the judgement up to Supreme Court.

it would be recalled that last week, a Kaduna State High Court in its judgement said that the government has no power to issue licenses to religious clerics before embarking on preaching.

Hundreds of Christian leaders representing different denominations met at the CAN secretariat on Monday, advising the Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai to withdraw any attempt to appeal the judgement of the State High Court and save Kaduna from further crisis.

At the meeting, the State CAN Chairman, Reverend Joseph Hayab who urged Governor El-Rufai to pay more attention on how to put an end to the security challenges in the State instead of exacerbating religious tension through the implementation of religious bill saying; “We wish to state that the judgment of the court is a welcome development and a huge relief to all peace-loving people in the state, both Christians and Lovers of peace from other faiths.”

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“For the Christians, we suspect that the bill, in the first instance, could be an attempt to bully the different faiths we profess and illegally aimed at obstructing religious preaching, especially the gospel of Jesus Christ. Given the ominous purpose of the bill, we stand with the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Kaduna State Chapter to legally pursue the matter to the apex court of the land.”

“We interpret the motive behind the bill as a gross violation of the rights of Christians and all people of Faith to practice their faiths as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution Section 38(1) gives Nigerians the right to practice the religion of their choice.”

Hayab remarked: “While, according to some feelers, the government may appeal against the judgment, CAN wish to advise the Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s administration that rather than dissipate valuable time and energy on a matter with a propensity to create further misunderstanding in the state, the government should focus its attention on the security challenges bedeviling the state.

He said: “In fact, it is no longer news that people within Kaduna State are repeatedly being robbed, abducted or killed by armed bandits, often identified as Fulani herdsmen almost on a daily basis.

Consequently, families and relations have had to cough out huge sums of money, amid scarce resources, to pay ransom to kidnappers to have their abducted relations freed.”

“At times even when the ransom is paid, the abductees are killed. At present, people in some rural communities in Kaduna State are unable to go to the farm purely for fear of being abducted, raped, or killed and yet all the government worries about is a Preaching Bill”.

Reverend Hayab continued: “to add salt to injury, recently the United Kingdom listed Kaduna State among the 21 states in Nigeria considered as red/danger zones where British citizens and other Europeans are advised against visiting. Isn’t that supposed to be the undeviating concern of the government?”

“Therefore, the problem that should be of grave disquiet to the government of Kaduna State and the front burner is the way to secure our territory from the intrusion of armed bandits instead of compounding the problems with a bill that offends the set provisions of the Nigerian Constitution.”

” We, as a result, call on El-Rufai to devote his energy and attention to addressing the unending challenge of constant kidnappings of our people on the highway, in their farms and home.

He said CAN will pursuit the recent judgement made in favour of a Kaduna Court in case the state government appeals the judgement up to Supreme Court, saying, we are determined to pursue the case to its logical conclusion.

Christian leaders from 23 local government attended the one-day meeting at CAN Secretariat.

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