Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai has inaugurated the pioneer Interfaith Religious Preaching Regulatory Council which will guide the conduct of religious preaching in Kaduna state.
Daily Trust reports that in 2016, Governor El-Rufai reviewed the Religious Preaching Edict of 1984 which was enacted by then Military administrator of the state, Air Vice Marshall Usman Muazu. Having been revised by the State House of Assembly for the first time, the governor came under heavy criticism as many accused him of attempting to stifle freedom of worship.
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) had challenged the state government in court and in 2019, Justice Hajaratu Gwadah of the Kaduna State High Court ruled that the Kaduna State Government had no right to screen and issue licenses to religious preachers but asserted that the government had a right to regulate religious activities in the state.
It is on this basis that while inaugurating the first interfaith preaching regulatory council in Kaduna, El-Rufai said religion has been weaponized and argued that it shouldn’t be a trigger for violent conflict in Kaduna state.
Speaking on the history of the law, he said subsequent military governors had amended the Religious Preaching Edict of 1984 to vary the penalty imposed for violations of its provisions.
“This is a law that has always been in the statute book of Kaduna State but it has not been implemented faithfully. We decided in 2016 to review this edict and subject a revised law to the scrutiny of an elected legislature for the first time. We have now a religious preaching law, and we are determined to do our best to help stamp out the poison from the negative practice of religion,” he said.
He described religion as a relationship with God, not a bargaining tool for economic or political favours adding that it was certainly not an excuse for murder, arson, destruction of property, and other violent crimes against people who worship and pray differently.
The governor said the pioneer members of the council have an arduous but important task of ensuring that leaders of faith and those that preach do not set the people against each other and that faith is not practiced in ways that deliberately and consistently inconvenience others.
He assured them that the state government will do all it can to support them in the discharge of their mandate to determine those that are qualified by education and training to preach without causing any problems for the people and communities.
Daily Trust reports members of the council are Alh. Munnir Jaafaru as chairman, Comfort Bangoji, Sheik Kabir Qasim, Engr. Iliya Duniya, Sheik Ishaq Yunus and Rev. Dr. Simon Haruna.
Others are the state Attorney-General, the state Commissioner of Police, State Director, DSS, Director-General, Bureau of Interfaith, Commander, Kaduna State Vigilance Service, and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Internal Security & Home Affairs.