Religious Regulatory Bill: Court stops el-Rufai from issuing licenses to pastors in Kaduna

A state High Court sitting in Kaduna, on Wednesday, ruled in favour of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) in a suit challenging the state on the Religious Regulatory Bill.

The court in its ruling considered the Bill as a gross violation of the fundamental human rights, which guarantees freedom of association and freedom of religion, thus, inconsistent with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and therefore, it is declared illegal.

In his judgment, the presiding judge, Justice D. Gwadah noted that the actions of the Kaduna State House of Assembly in proceeding to pass the bill into law despite pending court proceedings and the subsisting court injunction restraining the action, “is an affront to this honourable court.”

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It will be recalled that PFN, Kaduna chapter instituted the case since 2016 against Kaduna State Governor (Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai), Kaduna State House of Assembly and the Attorney General of Kaduna State over the Kaduna State Religious Regulatory Bill.

While addressing newsmen after the court judgments, Barr S. A. Akani lead counsel to PFN expressed satisfaction in the judgment on behalf of his client, the PFN.

According to him, the state has the right to legislate on religions, but the state cannot legislate on screening and issuing license to pastors.

“Our grave concern is that you can’t license our pastors. How many of them do you want to license? Now the court has agreed with our claims.

“For us, we are excited and we are glad because by the time you set up a committee to issue a license to people at the local government. If you don’t like my face, you won’t give me a license. As far as am concerned we have won. My clients do not need a license to preach.

“You want to regulate hate speech, But we have a way of regulating our clients. They will not issue hate speech.”

The council representing the respondents, in reaction to the judgment, said that their clients will appeal to the ruling.

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