Clerics and other stakeholders across Nigeria have accused the Federal Government of ulterior motives to control and possibly take over the running of their churches through the amended Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) forgetting the fact that the church is God’s property and He is able to fight for and defend His church. The senior pastor of All Nations Church Int’l, Apostle Courage Igene in this interview with EMMA CLEMENT has warned that the idea of a government taking over the affairs of religious houses is not appropriate. The United States- based cleric while reacting to the amendment Courage Igene rejected the CAMA signed into law recently by President Muhammadu Buhari. Excerpts:
PLEASE WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE AMENDED CAMA THAT WAS RECENTLY SIGNED INTO LAW BY PRESIDENT BUHARI?
In the Nigerian 1999 constitution as amended, there is separation between church and state. If they were calling for churches to be transparent with their books, it would have been okay even though it is none of their business. But to say government can remove Board of Trustees any time they like and replace with anyone and the Court can’t do anything about it, shows that the law is appalling, tyranny, maliciously conceived and such law should be not enacted in any democratic society in the world.
SOME NIGERAN PASTORS HAVE KICKED AGAINST THE LAW SAYING IT IS A DELIBERATE ATTEMPT BY THE GOVERNMENT TO INTERFERE IN THE AFFAIRS OF CHURCHES. WHAT IS YOUR OPINION?
Yes it is. Most churches have proven to be well run better than the federal government. Government should immediately back off the church and focus on governing. There is little or no trust between the government and the church. The church does not trust the sincerity of the government, so it may be difficult for the church to trust the government in the case of CAMA.
HOW BEST DO YOU THINK THE CHURCH LEADERSHIP UNDER CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA(CAN) SHOULD HANDLE THIS CONTROVERSIAL MATTER?
They should reject it in the strongest terms and stand by it. No room for compromise.
IT WAS GATHERED THAT A SIMILAR LAW EXIST IN THE U.S. AS A U.S NIGERIAN PREACHER, PLEASE SHARE WITH US HOW THE LAW OPERATES IN AMERICA .?
That is not true. In the USA, government does not interfere with the church except to support with a loan or something. But to say government can remove Board of Trustees anytime they like and replace with anyone they like is a blatant lie from the pit of hell.
IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU THINK THE CAMA WOULD AFFECT THE FUTURE GROWTH OF THE CHURCH IN NIGERIA IF IT IS NOT REVERSED OR SUSPENDED BY THE GOVERNMENT?
It will give rise to more draconian laws.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE GOVERNMENT AIMS TO ACHIEVE WITH THE CAMA LAW?
It will cause distraction and confusion.
SOME PEOPLE HAVE ARGUED THAT IF CHURCHES ARE DOING NO WRONG AND THEIR BOOKS ARE CLEAR, THEY SHOULD NOT FEAR SUBMITTING THEMSELVES TO THE FINANCIAL SCRUTINY BY THE GOVERNMENT. WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON THIS?
You can only open to the government if they provide support to the church. Other than that, the law is dead on arrival.
HOW JUSTIFABLE S THE GOVERNMENT ARGUMENT THAT THE CAMA IS IN PUBLIC INTEREST?
That argument should be taken with a pinch of salt.
HOW CAN THE CHURCHES IN NIGERIA UNITE TO GET THE CAMA LAW REVERSED OR SUSPENDED?
They should speak with one voice. And I also urge the federal government to do the needful to reverse this obnoxious law which is totally unacceptable.