CAN blows hot over bill suppressing Christians, others

The umbrella body of Christians in Nigeria, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna state chapter has threatened to drag the Kaduna state government to court over the religious bill recently passed by the former State House of Assembly.

Recall that the controversial religious preaching regulation law, was passed on June 7th, 2019, three years after the bill faced criticism from different religious bodies and individuals.

The bill, which purpose is to regulate religious preaching in Kaduna State with a view of promoting religious harmony and peaceful co-existence amongst the residents of the state, was brought to the House since 2016.

Speaking on Saturday, the Kaduna state Chairman of CAN, Reverend John Joseph Hayab, said the body is going to contest the legality of bill which was hurriedly signed passed by the former lawmakers.

He added that Christians in the state would not accept the religious bill passed by the State House of Assembly, even if Governor Nasir El-Rufai assents on it.

According to the Christian body, the bill, which the former lawmakers endorsed before the House of Assembly was dissolved, is a breach of the fundamental rights of all Christians in the state which the constitution guaranteed, and it’s being studied for immediate legal action in the court of law.

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“I, as the chairman of CAN in the state or any official, was not invited for any preliminary hearing by the State House of Assembly on the bill that the House hurriedly passed before it was resolved. And even the Interfaith Council which they claimed would regulates the activities of Churches and Mosques in the state, most of the members don’t understand what Christianity is, let alone regulating our religion.

“They cannot regulate both private and public evangelism of Christians. What is the essence of Christianity if we cannot evangelise both privately and publicly? The law cannot work. We will not accept it,” he said.

Besides, Hayab added, “I was in America when the news of the Assembly endorsing the bill was announced. Now that I am back, we are going to challenge the unlawful bill that the people of Kaduna rejected.”

He argued, “Even if the Governor assent to the bill, we will challenge its legality. We will not accept anything that would trample on our fundamental rights to worship and evangelise. We will go to court and challenge it.

“And for the sake of religious harmony, the government of Kaduna should avoid anything that will bring disharmony in the state. We have had enough controversies and issues of insecurity. Government should not overheat the polity again.”

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