The leadership of Christian Association of Nigeria in the 23 Local Government Area of Kaduna State on Monday, met in the state capital over the state religious bill awaiting the assent of the governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai.
The CAN leaders, comprising two members each from the 23 LGAs of the state, said the State High Court judgement declaring the issuance and licensing of clerics in the state as “illegal”, was a welcome development.
A State High Court had last Wednesday declared that the state had no rights to screen and issue licences to religious preachers in the state.
The court presided over by Justice Hajaratu Gwadah had maintained in her ruling that the state government had the rights to regulate religious activities in the state.
Justice Gwadah also ruled that screening and issuing licences to religious preachers was unconstitutional.
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria had in 2016 challenged the constitutionality of the bill, describing it is an infringement on fundamental human right.
The PFN had among other prayers, asked the court for a declaration that setting up a committee for the screening and licensing of preachers, as provided in the bill, is a violation of their rights.
The State CAN Chairman, Rev. John Hayab while addressing a press conference at its Secretariat along Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Kaduna, appealed to the governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai to obey the court ruling on the religious preaching bill.
Hayab while saying that the bill was designed to bully Christians in the state, noted that the bill won’t stand the test of time.
He maintained that the association was fully behind the PFN that dragged the state govt to court over the matter.
According to him, the Christian body was ready to pursue the case even to the Supreme Court should the governor decided to go against the ruling of the court.
He called on the governor to concentrate on the persistent kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry in the state rather than dissipating his energy on the bill.
The CAN boss added, “We invited you here to make a public statement on some recent developments in Kaduna State, particularly, the recent court’s ruling on the controversial Executive Bill seeking to regulate religious preaching in our dear state.
“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.
“Given the ominous purpose of the bill, we stand with the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria Kaduna State Chapter to legally pursue the matter to the apex court of the land.
“CAN is calling on the government to retrace its steps and focus on people-oriented programmes and stop exploiting religious differences to further polarize the citizenry.”
CAN added, “Meanwhile, if the government refuses to listen to wise counsel to obey the court’s ruling on the bill to regulate religious preaching in the state, CAN will seek for alternative means to bring further to the observing eyes of the world the hostile approach of the government of the day in Kaduna State to the tenets of religious freedom and choice.
“For a start, CAN has called for special prayers in all churches on Sunday 30th June 2019 for divine intervention and for the leadership and people of Kaduna State and the country at large for God to grant leaders the wisdom to tackle the insecurity we are faced as a state and as a nation.”
The CAN leadership also seek payment of compensation to all victims of kidnappers in the state.
The meeting was still ongoing as of the time of filing this report.