By Longtong Ibrahim
Kaduna (Nigeria) – Kaduna State Governor, Nasiru El-Rufai says the ‘preaching bill’ currently before the state house of assembly is meant to protect the state from religious extremism, hate speech, and ensuring that religion is practiced in a safe and secured atmosphere.
El-Rufai stated this Wednesday when State Leadership of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), visited the government house to discuss the preaching bill.
The governor who was represented by his deputy, Barnabas Bala, said, “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.
“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.
“This is the first time that 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.”
“Kaduna State has a history of religious/sectarian crisis and what this bill seeks to do is not anything new, but to learn from painful experience, and discourage the use of religion for violence and division. 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,” he noted.
The state CAN chairman, Bishop George Dodo, in a remarks said, it would soon make a comprehensive submission to the House of Assembly and the Executives.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai had in February, 2016 sent the executive bill “For A Law To Substitute The Kaduna State Religious Preaching Law, 1984”, which seeks to regulate preaching activities, and requires a preacher to obtain preaching permit in the state. It also bans residents from playing evangelical tapes and CDs in public places and allows loud speakers to be used only inside churches and mosques but not beyond 8.00pm, of which violators would pay a fine of N200, 000.
The bill has generated mix reactions from Christian and Muslim faithfuls across Nigeria.