ICC Note: A northern Nigerian governor is pushing a bill to place restrictions on religious sermons in the state, according to reports. Catholic church leaders have spoken out forcefully against the measure, which reportedly contains helpful reasoning with the aim to promote religious harmony between Christians and Muslims. However, restricting religious freedom never has positive outcomes, especially for Christians in a majority-Muslim state with a Muslim governor. The problem stems from the contradictions that exist between maintaining a constitution that protects religious freedom while there is an increasing expansion of Muslim sharia law in Nigeria’s north.
By Caleb Ayansina and Olayinka Latona
4/5/16 Kaduna, Nigeria (AllAfrica) – The Catholic Church, has sent a strong warning to Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai over the move to enact a religious bill to prohibit preaching of religious sermons in the state.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, the Director of Caritas International, a department under the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Rev. Fr. Evaristus Bassey said the peoples’ will is sovereign and must be respected, noting that the bill had enormous potential abuses, therefore, it should not become law, because it would be misused against one religion by ambitious state officials.
Fr. Bassey said: “The danger in Nigeria is the manipulation of structures and institutions by strong individuals. Thus, the fear is that even if the proposed bill contains good aims, the proposed restrictions would play into the hands of officials of state who have a hegemonic mentality and would allow them the freedom to persecute one religion in favour of another.