Few days after Kaduna state governor, Nasir El Rufai, forwarded a bill
to the state House of Assembly, stating that religious leaders in the
state will have to obtain a one year license to preach in the state, an
Edo state based pastor and the Senior Pastor of Omega Fire Ministries
(OFM), Apostle Johnson Suleiman, called on the governor to revoke the
bill now or die.

According to Suleiman, El Rufai has no right to regulate the activities
of religious leaders when he has not regulated the activities of
traditionalist in the state. He said before he, El Rufai, became
governor, they were men of God and that they will still remain men of
God when he leaves office.

“I want to warn the governor of Kaduna state. Many times I have read in
the papers how he abused Jesus and Christians came after him. He said
that they are joking that Nothing can happen. I am talking to you,
Kaduna Governor. Listen, I am not against sanitizing a state but you say
people should get licence for preaching; it is not applicable in
Nigeria.

Even a herbalist does not get a license for practicing herbalism. When
you say license for preaching, then you are standing against the
constitution that says freedom of worship. I have no problem, we can
test powers now. There are certain laws that cannot happen in this
country. Not when Nigeria is under God. If need be, over this matter,
heaven will intervene. I am saying this specifically to the executive
governor of Kaduna, revoke this law or die!”he said

Read what the bill is about below…

The Religious Regulation Bill, designed to replace the Religious
Regulation Edict of 1984, is geared towards regulating Christianity and
Islam as it seeks to create an inter-faith Ministerial Committee to be
appointed by the governor and exercise control over Jama’atu Nasril
Islam, JNI, and the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN.

Highpoints of the bill include:
*The ministerial committee shall issue licenses to religious bodies.
*Without such licenses, you cannot preach.
*No external preacher can preach in Kaduna without a permit.
*The committee has the power to refuse to issue licenses

No criteria are given as to what will qualify one to have a license issued to him or for one to be denied a license.

The bill empowers JNI and CAN to keep records of churches and mosques
including data of preachers. The law criminalizes the use of
religious CDs, flash drive and other communication gadgets except in
churches, mosques or other places of worship or personal houses. The
implication is that you cannot listen to Christian tapes in your car or
at any place except your house and in a church.

If you preach without a license, you are guilty of an offence punishable
by two years imprisonment. If you hold any Christian gathering even in a
church and use loud speaker (microphone) after 8.00 p.m, you are
guilty of an offence punishable with two years imprisonment.

If you listen to a message in your car, you are guilty of an offence
punishable by two years imprisonment.

If you hold a crusade or any programme or any other kind of programme
and use a loudspeaker at the said programme as long as it is not a
church, you are guilty of an offence punishable by two years
imprisonment.

The bill criminalizes the abuse of religious books and makes it
punishable by two years imprisonment. (It does not define what ‘abuse of
religious books’ mean. It criminalizes the use of derogatory terms in
describing any religion and makes it punishable by two years
imprisonment. It does not define what ‘use of derogatory terms in
describing any religion’ means.)

 Every preacher will have to obtain one year license (renewable every
year) or risk two years imprisonment. If you invite any external
preacher (i.e. preacher from outside Kaduna State), such a person must
be licensed for the duration of his/her stay and the body issuing the
license has the right to reject the external preacher if it feels he
is not qualified to preach in the state.

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