Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday advised church leaders and others who have misgivings about the amended Companies and Allied Matters Act, CAMA 2020 recently signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari to approach the National Assembly.
Prof. Osinbajo spoke on Thursday at the ongoing Nigeria Bar Association Annual General Conference during a Special Conversation featuring him and the Speaker of the House of Representatives Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila.
Some Nigerian have condemned provisions of the amended Act which deals with regulation of non-governmental organisations, NGOs, under which religious bodies are registered.
Specifically, the church leaders’ have condemned Section 839 (1) and (2) of the amended Act which empower the the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to lawfully place on suspension trustees of NGOs over complaints of corruption from members.
The provision also empowers the CAC to appoint new trustees over such organisations for a limited period.
“Government has no power to appoint people over churches. This is a secular nation. The church is the greatest asset of God in this country. Please be warned. Judgment is coming. The Lord says I have been still but now I will arise. Anybody that is in this deal is taking poison. This will never work.
“I am waiting for a day when anybody will appoint a trustee over this church. You can’t gag anybody. We own this country together. It is only in Africa that people who are over 80 years still run around to become president. I know that it is the prosperity of the church that is making them jealous,” Bishop David Oyedepo, the presiding Bishop of Living Faith Church Worldwide who first raised alarm over the provision in the CAMA said.
Also, the President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev Dr. Samson Ayokunle, in a statement described the provision in the new CAMA as “unacceptable, ungodly and a declaration of war on the church, ”in a statement issued on his behalf by his special assistant on media and Communications, Bayo Oladeji.
CAN further asked the Federal Government to leave church matters alone, arguing that government lacked the technical expertise to handle things of the spirit, CAN opposed Section 839 (1) and (2) of the law and described it as “satanic.”
While noting that the section empowers the supervising minister “to suspend trustees of an association (in this case, the church) and appoint interim managers to run its affairs for some given reasons,” CAN advised President Buhari to “urgently return the law to the National Assembly for immediate amendment. ”
But speaking at the NBA Conference, the Vice President who is also a pastor of one of the largest christian congregations in Nigeria, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, urged those who have concerns about the CAMA legislation to approach the National Assembly for possible amendments, since “we are in a democracy.”
Osinbajo who was responding to questions from participants at the conference on the new legislation said, “the solution to the concerns is evident” noting that an amendment to the CAMA Act could be sought by those expressing concerns about sections of the law.
He said “we have a process by which this can be redressed. Whatever the proposal for amendment may be, whatever the view of the leadership of the church may be, regarding the question of how the trustees, whether they are interim trustees or not, can be put into a proposal that will be brought to the National Assembly for consideration for amendment to the law, that is the process which is entirely opened and ought to be pursued.
“We are in a democracy and there is a process by which things can be done and that process is the one where you bring forward amendments to the National Assembly and they will do whatever is considered useful in the circumstance.”