Prominent Islamic scholar, Sheikh Haliru Maraya, has advised Governor Nasir el-Rufai to avert religious upheaval by discountenancing the religious bill recently passed by the House of Assembly.
The former Special Adviser to the late Governor Patrick Yakowa on Islamic Matters said endorsing the bill, which prohibits public preaching in the state, might be a signpost to religious disharmony among the people.
According to him, the bill is a gross violation of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
But the state government responded that the new document, though not yet signed into law by the governor, would encourage respect for the rights of others and outlaw use of religion for incitement.
Besides, the state government had argued that the bill was meant to regulate religious preaching to promote religious harmony and peaceful coexistence when it presented the bill before the Kaduna assembly in 2016.
The bill provides for the establishment of an inter-faith regulatory council at the state level and a committee at the council level to issue licence to preachers.
A senior government official told The Guardian that the bill would help return religion to the private sphere, encourage respect for the religious rights of other people and reduce the potential for conflict.
His words: “The amended law is viewed by experts as another strong effort to remove impediments to religious freedom, as it will allow people to safely focus on the spirituality and rigours of their faith, while removing the poison of incitement, desecration of places of worship and the use of derogatory language.
“The Kaduna State House of Assembly commendably passed the executive bill to regulate religious preaching in the state. Since 1980, Kaduna State has had too many incidents of ethno-religious violence, often with tragic consequences. Many mixed neighbourhoods in Kaduna, the state capital, have since the 1980s become exclusive enclaves of adherents of specific religions.
“In 1987, religious riots broke out from the College of Education, Kafanchan, and spread to other parts of the state, including Kaduna and Zaria. In 2000, Kaduna metropolis exploded over the Sharia matter, taking many lives and property. Zamfara, which birthed the Sharia movement, was untouched.”