John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Kaduna state government on Wednesday said that the controversial bill on preaching in the state was aimed at curbing religious extremism.
The deputy governor of the state, Mr. Barnabas Bantex, stated this during a closed door meeting with the leadership of the Kaduna state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) at the Government House, Kaduna.
The meeting was summoned following growing apprehension and anxiety over the bill.
Bantex, in a brief remarks before the meeting went into closed door session, said the executive Bill, before the State House of Assembly was aimed at protecting the state against religious extremism.
“We swore to uphold the Constitution which recognises the freedom of religion and thought as fundamental rights. The same Constitution obliges us to ensure the safe exercise of these rights by legislating in the interest of public safety, public order, public morality or public health, and for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons.
“This is not a new law. It has existed since 1984, with amendments in 1987 and 1996. The military governments which created the law were responding to outbreaks of religious violence such as Maitatsine in 1983; the riots after the Kafanchan incidence of 1987″ the deputy governor said.
He maintained that was the first time that “the legislation is passing through a democratic process, with all the transparency that the public hearing and other legislative processes of the House of Assembly entails.
“Proposing this amendment is a deliberate decision by the government to subject the law to a democratic process, rather than just enforce the provisions of the edict as passed since 1984.”