Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai has been the centre of controversy in recent times due to a proposed law meant to regulate preaching in the state.
The bill provides a fine of N200,000 and/or a prison term of two years for people who preach in the state without having licenses.
It also seeks to stop the indiscriminate use of loud speakers for religious purposes “other than inside a mosque or church and the surrounding areas.”
Critics have argued that the law is the first step towards the Islamization of Nigeria.
The bill has also led Apostle Johnson Suleman, the Senior Pastor of Omega Fire Ministries, to place a curse on El Rufai.
“I want to place a curse on those that fight the gospel. I hear that in Kaduna now they’ve released a circular that church should not use instruments at certain times,” Suleman said during a conference held by his ministry in March 2016.
“I told you before that we have a government that will fight the church… check my prophecies for the year…I want to warn the governor of Kaduna State…I have no problem we can test powers now. There are certain laws that cannot happen in this country…I’m saying this to the governor of Kaduna, revoke this law or die,” he added.
In response, El-Rufai explained that the law was necessary because of people who use religion as an excuse to commit atrocities.
He also dared Apostle Suleman to tell him the exact date of his death since the fact that he would die one day was already common knowledge.
“Kaduna State, more than any state in Nigeria, if you take out the Yobe, Borno and Adamawa axis, which suffered from Boko Haram insurgency, has suffered the most from death and destruction of property due to misuse and abuse of religion,” El-Rufai said during a recent interview with journalists, according to Punch.
“Thus, when you have such things happening in your country, I think as leaders, we have to sit down and examine ourselves and the society and see what we can do to prevent it. In my opinion, it is the lack of regulation of religion that led to all these circles of death and destruction. Just recently, we had the Shi’ite problem in Zaria, following a similar pattern.
“The logic behind this law is to strengthen the 1984 laws so as to regulate and ensure that those that are given the opportunity to preach at least know what they are doing, they have a level of responsibility to develop the society rather than divide it. This is our goal; we don’t have anything against any religion or anybody.
“Are you telling me it is okay for someone to put up speakers in the night and start making a noise, be it Islam or Christianity, disturbing people? Is that okay? Which chapter in the two holy books says that Jesus or Muhammad (SAW) did that? Are we not trying to copy them? Are they not the perfections of both our religions? Jesus said, ‘Give to God what is God’s and to Caesar what is Caesar’s.’ Government is the Caesar.
“Most of the people that say I would die, as if I would not die, are people who call themselves Christian clergy. Of course, I will die. If that apostle is truly an apostle, he should mention the day I will die. There is nothing in that law that prevents or infringes the practice of religion. It seeks to ensure that those that preach religion are qualified, trained and certified by their peers to do it,” El-Rufai added.
Frankly speaking, the governor of Kaduna State deserves commendation and not criticism for his bravery in taking a step that most Nigerian leaders should, but are afraid to.
Nigerians repeatedly use religion as a reason to inconvenience their fellow citizens and most people suffer in silence because they don’t want to look like the devil’s children.
Many houses of worship turn their speakers on to the loudest at odd hours of the day, preventing residents of the area from getting a good night’s rest. There are also the bus preachers and those who walk down streets early in the morning condemning all sinners to hell.
Too much harassment has been meted out to innocent citizens in the name of religion, some preachers even have the guts to walk up to women and tell them they’re going to hell because they’re wearing trousers or earrings.
The Nigerian constitution allows for freedom of religion, but every freedom given to citizens must be regulated so it isn’t enjoyed at another’s expense.
Hence, Kaduna’s preaching regulation law is a step in the right direction and every Nigerian state should have one just like it to ensure that the abuse of religion is brought to a final stop nationwide.