The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has rejected the application of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020, on churches.
President Muhammadu Buhari signed CAMA into law on August 7.
Under the law, religious bodies and charity organisations will be regulated by the registrar-general of Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and a supervising minister.
But in a statement by Adebayo Oladeji, special assistant on media and communications to Samson Ayokunle, CAN president, the association said the law is “unacceptable, ungodly, reprehensible and an ill-wind that blows no one any good”.
According to CAN, the church cannot be controlled by the government because of its spiritual responsibilities and obligations.
The association maintained that the government does not have the technical expertise to run the church, adding that though it is not against the government’s fight against corruption, it completely rejects the idea of bringing the church under its control.
CAN said if the federal government is bent on imposing a law on the church, then it has declared war on Christianity and “the agenda to destroy the Church which we have spoken against before now is coming to the open more clearly”.
“We recall that during the First Term of the President, there was a Public Hearing conducted by the National Assembly on the Non-Governmental Organisations Bill tagged ‘Bill for an Act to Provide for the Establishment of the Non-Governmental Organisations Regulatory Commission for the Supervision, Co-ordination and Monitoring of Non-Governmental Organisations’, which was attended by CAN and many NGOs,” the statement read.
“At the Public Hearing, the Bill that sought to bring the religious organisations and NGOs under the control and influence of the government was totally rejected because it would snuff life out of the church and rank the church as a secular institution under secular control. We thought it was all over until we heard of the CAMA that was assented to by the President, making the rejected bill a law.
“The satanic section of the controversial and ungodly law is Section 839 (1) &(2) which empowers the Commission to suspend trustees of an association (in this case, the church) and appoint interim managers to manage the affairs of the association for some given reasons.
“The Church cannot be controlled by the government because of its spiritual responsibilities and obligations. This is why we are calling on the federal government to stop the implementation of the obnoxious and ungodly law until the religious institutions are exempted from it.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently return the law to the National Assembly for immediate amendment. Nigeria should not be compared with any other nation when it comes to the relationship between religious institutions and the government. In Nigeria, people’s religions are tied to their humanity and, of course, their life.
“How can the government sack the trustee of a church which it contributed no dime to establish? How can a secular and political minister be the final authority on the affairs and management of another institution which is not political?
“It is an invitation to trouble that the government does not have power to manage. Let the government face the business of providing infrastructure for the people. Let them focus on better health provision, food, education, adequate security employment, etc.”
The association added that it would not allow the government to take away people’s liberty to worship.
“What good thing again will you not take away from the people in the name of being in power? Is this not gradually becoming a dictatorship or what was the essence of the Public Hearing you called us to when you had made up your mind not to consider the position of Christians at all which we presented during the Public Hearing?” the association queried.
The association called on all well-meaning Nigerians to ask the federal government to suspend the law “because we do not need it in this nation”.
David Oyedepo, presiding bishop of Living Faith Church Worldwide, had also kicked against the law, saying no one can appoint a trustee over his church.