By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has urged the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, to declare illegal, Section 839 (1) & (2) of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020, that empowers the federal government to suspend the trustees of incorporated non-governmental organisations.
CAN, in a statement yesterday by its General Secretary, Rev. Joseph Bade Daramola, said the case came up for mention in court yesterday.
It said the body wanted the court to adjudicate over some provisions of the law, which it was not comfortable with.
The case, with suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/244/2021, is between the Incorporated Trustees of Christian Association of Nigeria and Corporate Affairs Commission and Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, CAN.
According to CAN, the case was filed on its behalf by its lawyers led by Mr. Joe Kyari-Gadzama (SAN); Prof. J. Amupitan (SAN); Mr. Wale Adesokan (SAN); Mr. Isaac Okpanachi; Ms. Comfort Chigbue; Mr. Godswill Iyoke; Mr. Cyril Obika; Mr. Geraldine Mbah; Mr. Francis Oronsaye; Mr. Oluniyi Adediji; Mr. Charles Ndukwe; Mr. Emmanuel Ekong and Mr.Darlington Onyekwere, among others.
It listed CAN leaders present in the court to include Daramola, Mr. Kunle Fagbemi, Senator Philip Gyunka, Mr. Tunde Adegbesan, Rev. Testimony Onifade; the Director, Legal and Public Affairs, Ms. Comfort Otera Chigbue, and Senator Jonathan Zwingina.
“It resolved to go to court after all attempts to convince the federal government on why it should not intervene or interfere with the management of the church in the country through any of its agencies failed,” it added.
CAN, while rejecting the amended CAMA law, had said: “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 the interim managers to manage the affairs of the association for some given reasons is unacceptable.”
President Muhammadu Buhari, on August 7, 2020, had signed into law the Companies and Allied Matters bill, which replaced the 1990 CAMA.
But CAN had rejected the new law, saying it was “unacceptable, ungodly and a declaration of war on the church.”
The association had also described the law as “a time bomb’’ whose explosion would not only ”snuff life out of the church’’ but rank it (church) as “a secular institution under secular control.”
CAN, in a statement by Bayo Oladeji, Special Assistant (Media and Communications) to its President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, had called on the government to steer clear off church matters because it lacked the technical expertise to handle spiritual issues.
CAN labelled Section 839 (1) and (2) of the law as “satanic.”
The section empowers the supervising minister “to suspend trustees of an association (in this case, the church) and appoint interim managers to run its affairs for some given reasons.”
“The law, to say the least is unacceptable, ungodly, reprehensible, and an ill-wind that blows no one any good. It is a time bomb waiting to explode.
“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.
“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,” it had stated.