The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna State chapter has disclosed that the state Governor Nasir El-Rufai is plotting to use the proposed Religious Regulations bill in the state to bully Christians.
CAN which had also been at the Vanguard of opposition against the bill also declared their support for the court action instituted against the bill by the
Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) Kaduna State Chapter and its recent outcome.
The State High Court had recently ruled against the state government, saying the government has no power to license preachers in the state.
However addressing newsmen on Monday at the CAN Secretariat, Rev Joseph John Hayab, CAN Chairman, Kaduna State said, “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.
“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.”
Hayab also said, “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. This is because, the Holy Bible commands ALL Christians, not just Pastors, to “go into the world and preach the gospel” (Mathew 28: 19-20 and Mark 16: 15).”
CAN also said, “We are equally calling on the Governor, in the interest of justice and fair play, to pay compensation to all victims of herdsmen attacks, kidnappers, and armed robbers, just like he paid the Fulani herdsmen three years ago to “stop the killings in some part of Kaduna State,” even though the massacres are yet to stop.
“We make the above call on the evidence of what the Governor himself said in 2016 that he paid Fulani herdsmen. So, in the spirit of equality and equity, we ask the Kaduna State Government to pay reparation to victims of attacks and kidnappings all over the state.”
According to Hayab, ” It is important to note that the preponderance of the violence which befell Kaduna State in the past was not instigated by religious preaching but were mostly caused by injustice, lack of equity, hate speech by those in power and the outright marginalisation on certain people in the State.
“It is public knowledge that the action or inaction of leaders is often blamable for most of the problems in society. So, 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.”
Hayab also said, ” 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.
“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 be devilling the state.
“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!
“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 homes.”
The religious body also said, ” 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 as opposed to the tenets of religious freedom and choice.
“For a start, CAN has called for special prayers in all churches for 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.”He said.
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