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Mixed reactions over preaching regulation bill

There have been mixed reactions over the passing of the bill seeking to regulate religious preaching in Kaduna State.

The Kaduna State House of Assembly on Friday passed the Religious Preaching Regulation Bill into law shortly before the Fifth Assembly was dissolved.

Former Adviser to Late Governor Patrick Yakowa on Islamic Islamic Matters, Shaikh Haliru Abdullahi Maraya advised Governor Nasir El-Rufai not to assent to the bill.

The Islamic cleric said issuance of license to preachers is not the responsibility of the state government.

Shaikh Maraya also quoted sections of the 1999 constitution that give citizens the right to worship or join any religion of their choice.

“The Constitution of this country gives every Nigerian the right to practice any religion of his choice, to change from one religion to another and to propagate the religion in private or in public.

“The constitution does not say that Nigerians should only practice their religion when a licence is given to them.

“That portion of the constitution section 38 sub section (1)‎ serves as a licence to all Nigerians to propagate their religion and any law that is inconsistent with any provision of the constitution  of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should be considered void.”

He said there are other aspects of the bill that may infringe on individual’s right to religious practices.

A human rights activist, Gloria Mabeiam Ballason also described the bill as unconstitutional.

Ballason said the Kaduna state government was in contempt because the matter is before a court and the presiding judge had issued an order of restraint on the bill until the matter is fully determined.

‘The law in itself is as needless as it is unconstitutional.

“The law seeks to give the powers to regulate preaching to people with political authority, how will their competence be determined? The law also seeks to legislate on acts that have already been covered by existing laws this will certainly lead to a conflict of laws.

“What is even more worrisome is that the law is likely to infringe on the rights to religion, expression and association of the people,” she said.

Alhaji Sabiu Muhammad a community leader in Kakuri, Kaduna said he is in support of the bill.

He said preachers in Kaduna are misusing their privilege through their actions and preaching.

“Somebody can just wake up today and open a church and start preaching, so also with Muslim a cleric will just wake up and start preaching in the mosque without licence.

“All these need to be checked by a regulatory body. People cannot just wake up and start preaching in the name of religion after all religion is a very sensitive area that needs to be checked. The Quran is a regulatory book because it teaches Muslims what needs to be done and not to be done.

“Same goes with the bible, which also teaches Christians and regulates activities of the Christians as human beings. So, to me it’s not possible for human beings to be left without regulation especially on issues that have to do with religion.

“We all know that religion is like a time bomb in this country which is why the government needs such laws to regulate how people go about preaching. So we need this bill or law in our society,” he stated.

Danjuma Bello Sarki, a politician, however says the bill if signed into law may be used to get at political opponents or those who disagree with policies of government.

He said bill also violates certain provisions of the constitution which guarantee freedom of worship and association.

The former student union leader urged the governor not to sign the bill into law saying it will further divide the people of state.

“If signed into law, it can be used to get at political opponents or clerics who disagree with the government on certain policies,” he said.

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