John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Kaduna State chapter of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) has dragged the state government before a state High Court over an executive bill before the stateHouse of Assembly which seeks to regulate religious preaching in the state.
PFN, in the suit against the state governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, prayed the court to declare as null and void the controversial executive bill before state assembly.
The two others joined in the suit instituted by the President of PFN, Prof. Femi Ehinmidu, are the state House of Assembly and the Attorney General of the state.
The PFN and all its churches in Nigeria, through its counsel, Mr. Sunny A. Akanni of S.A Akanni and Co, asked the court for the enforcement of its fundamental rights as guaranteed under sections 38(1), 39(1), 40(1), and 42(1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended and under the African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights.
PFN, in the suit which came up for mention yesterday, wants the court to declare that “the bill for a law to substitute the Kaduna State Religious Preaching Law 1984 sent to the state House of Assembly by the
governor of the state is a violation of the Applicant’s Fundamental Rights of freedom of religion, Association and discriminatory as guaranteed by s.38,39,40 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.”
PFN also wants the court to declare that “the Regulation of Religious Preaching law cap 130 of the state law of July 17, 1984 is a violation of the Applicant’s Right to Religious Freedom as guaranteed by s.38, 39, 40 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
“An order setting aside the said Regulations of Religious Preaching Law of July 17, 1984, as a violation of the constitutional rights of the applicant.
“An order prohibiting the state House of Assembly from passing into law the said bill as it offends the United Nations and the African Union agreement and protocol of which Nigeria is a signatory to particularly Article 8 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.”
Counsel to the defendants and Director of Civil Litigations, Mr. Sanusi Usman, yesterday submitted his defence before the court.
Akanni told the court that he would study the submission of the defendant, and promised to respond to the court by next week. Some religious leaders, especially Christian leaders, had expressed strong opposition to the bill which according to the governor, is aimed at curtailing hate speech and to promote peace and harmony among religious groups in the state.