On the day it was dissolved, Friday, June 7, the Kaduna state House of Assembly hurriedly passed a 3-year old Executive Bill banning open religious preaching in any part of the state.
Called the Religious Preaching Regulation law, which was delayed because of the stiff opposition presented by the Christian and Muslim leaders and other stakeholders in the state, it is “meant to regulate religious preaching in order to promote religious harmony and peaceful co-existence not to stifle religious freedom,” according to the government.
Alhaji Aminu Shagali, Speaker of the Assembly who presided over the sitting during which the bill was passed ensured it was read clause by clause to avoid any further arguments that may arise later.
The new law provides for the establishment of an Inter-faith Regulatory Council at the state and local government levels, to be charged with the responsibility for screening and issuing licence to preachers.
The body to be comprised of members of the public as well as those from the Christian and Muslim faith would be mandated by the law to hear and determine appeals to be brought before it arising from the decision of the local government interfaith committees.
The Council also has power to issue regulations considered necessary to guide the local government interfaith committees in the performance of their functions as provided under the bill, if signed into law, according to the News Agency of Nigeria report.
“The bill when signed into law, stipulates that in each of the 23 local Government areas of the state, a committee to be known as the Local Government Interfaith Committee has to be established.
“The local Government Interfaith committee shall consider and recommend to state Interfaith Regulation Council all applications for the grant of licence to religious preachers as well as screen and recommend preachers for the grant of license among other functions.
“The supplementary provision provides that all cassettes, CDs, flash drives or any other communication gadgets containing religious recordings from accredited preachers may be played inside a private dwelling unit or vehicle, entrance porch (zaure), Church, Mosque and any other designated place of worship.
“It further stated that any person who plays religious cassette or uses a loud speaker for religious purposes between the hours of 11pm to 4am in a public place, and uses a loudspeaker for religious purposes other than inside Church or Mosque commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years or pay a fine of not less than N200,000 or both.”
The bill also states that any person who publicly insults or seeks to incite contempt against any religion, by making false statements in such a manner as likely lead to a breach of peace, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of not less than five years or a fine of not less than N100,000 or both. (NAN)