By Jide Afolabi, Jos
The Evangelical Church Winning All, ECWA, has condemned the Religious Preaching Regulatory Bill passed by the 8th Kaduna State House of Assembly and signed into law by the governor of the state, Nasir El-Rufai recently.
ECWA said that the way the passage of the bill was rushed raises suspicion as it went against a subsisting court order issued in 2017 which restrained the House of Assembly from taking any further action on the bill.
While addressing the media at the headquarters in Jos today, Wednesday, during a press conference, ECWA President, Rev Stephen Panya Baba said that the law negated the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations and in gross violation of the fundamental human right of Christians to practice their religion as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.
He said, “The essence of every good law is to promote peace, unity, order, well-being, and development of the people. Unfortunately, ECWA strongly believes that the said law is ill-motivated obnoxious and unnecessary because of its negative implications for the effective practice of the Christian faith and preaching of the gospel of salvation. In Matthew 28:19-20, our Lord Jesus Christ commissioned every Christian to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; and teaching them to obey everything He has commanded. The idea of censorship of religious publications and issuing license to preachers is a negation of this great commission and violation of the fundamental right of Christians to practice their religion as guaranteed in the Nigerian Constitution. In the 1999 Constitution, as amended, Section 38 subsection (1) and (3) guarantees the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion while Section 39 subsection (1) guarantees the right to freedom of expression and press”.
He stated that “Evangelism, prayer, and fasting are important injunctions in the Christian faith. It is a well-known fact that evangelism is preponderantly an outdoor activity requiring the use of a public address system to communicate messages. Christians also have a biblical mandate to pray always including all night prayer. The prohibition of the use of loudspeakers for religious purposes between 11pm and 4am as well as the restriction of playing religious recordings to only private places and designated places of worship is a well-orchestrated plan to deny Christians the right to practice their religion and stifle the Christian faith. This clearly portends danger and does not augur well for religious freedom, peace, and harmony; and must be rejected by all well-meaning Nigerians.”
Stephen Panya Baba noted that the unnecessary ethnoreligious crises in the state which has hampered the development of the state cannot be curtailed by the Bill but by “Kaduna state government putting in place policies and actions that will ensure and deepen justice, fairness, and equity to all, religious tolerance, mutual respect, good governance and delivery of democracy dividends to the people irrespective of religion, ethnicity or political persuasions. The universal principle that says ‘there cannot be peace without justice’ should be taken seriously and upheld at all levels of governance in our country”.
ECWA however, appealed to the Governor, Nasir El-Rufai to discard the bill and seek other alternatives of addressing the religious challenge in Kaduna state which includes engaging religious leaders on a regular basis.
He urged ECWA members and all Christians in Kaduna state and across the country to remain calm, law-abiding, peaceful and prayerful.
He also commended Christian bodies that have decided to seek legal redress on the matter rather than take laws into their hands.
He urged Christians to continue to uphold the leaders in prayer that God will guide them in the path of justice and righteousness and grant them the grace to do what is right at all times for the good of those they have been given responsibility to govern while reminding the leaders to be careful as they would all give account of their stewardship to Almighty God one day.
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