ICC Note: Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai has proposed a bill before the state assembly that would punish street preaching and evangelism with fines, while creating a body to oversee the licensing of Christian ministers and Muslim imams, Morning Star News reports. If the bill passes, Christian leaders in Kaduna say followers of Christ will suffer increased persecution. Kaduna is a majority-Muslim state in Nigeria’s north and Christian clergy believe the measure exists as a ploy to target Christianity. El-Rufai maintains the idea rather means to protect Kaduna residents spiritually from unqualified preachers and to curb sectarian violence in the state.
KADUNA, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Street evangelists would be fined and “offensive” preaching at church services would send pastors to jail for up to two years under legislation proposed by the Muslim governor of Kaduna state, church leaders said.
As discussion of the legislation heated up in the past month, Christian leaders voiced alarm over the bill Gov. Nasir El-Rufai sent to the state assembly last October, which would also require clergy to obtain a preaching permit renewable every year. Church leaders said the Religious Regulation Bill, which would apply to all religions including Islam, is a ploy to stifle and persecute Christians under the guise of quelling extremists and charlatans.
“The proposed law is in contravention of the Nigerian Constitution and shall inhibit the preaching of the gospel when it becomes operational,” the Rev. George Dodo, chairman of the Kaduna State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Roman Catholic bishop of Zaria Diocese, told Morning Star News. “We have reservations over the bill and believe that it will curtail religious freedom of the people, particularly, Christians in Kaduna state.”
Under consideration by the Muslim-dominated Kaduna State House of Assembly, the bill stipulates that clergy would lose preaching rights if the state government or its agencies consider any of their words to be offensive. Preachers found guilty could be imprisoned for up two years or fined 200,000 naira (approximately US$1,000), or both.