CSOs Kick against Senate Bill Seeking to Regulate Christianity

CSOs Kick against Senate Bill Seeking to Regulate Christianity

Rebecca Ejifoma

Nineteen Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have kicked against the bill seeking to regulate and set standards for the practice of Christianity in Nigeria for lack of merits.

The coalition of CSOs rose against the bill at a multi-stakeholder press conference in Lagos. 

It should be recalled that Senator Binos Yaroe, representing Adamawa South Senatorial District, sponsored the bill that has passed the second reading.

The bill stated that the national centre for Christian education would resolve the country’s “inappropriate practice” of religion that has been creating issues in the country.  

A human rights lawyer and representative of the CSOs, Mr. Sonnie Ekwowusi, condemned the bill.

Ekwowusi added that the lawmakers ought to set up a bill to secure the lives and properties of Nigerians.

He also argued that the bill striped Nigerians of their fundamental human rights and contradicts democracy.

He said: “Lawmakers do not own the people. Instead, they were employed to serve them.

“The nine-page bill violated Sections 34, 35, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, and 42 of our 1999 Constitution.”

He also insisted that the bill violated Articles 2, 8, 9, 17, 18, 27, 28, and 29 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification Enforcement) Act.

The lawyer cautioned that “if you impose bills like this on people, you cannot have peace.”

Ekwowusi said: “CAN is a voluntary organisation. All Nigerian Christians and citizens are not members of CAN. CAN has been hijacked and is now used by selfish politicians to satisfy their interests.”

Another lawyer, Mr. Ben Abraham, noted that the bill’s sponsors failed to understand the separation of the state and church, also known as the separation of religion and government in a presidential democracy and secular state such as Nigeria.

“The value of democracy stands or falls with the fundamental values that it embodies and promotes.

“A democratic government ought to conduct its activities in line with the will and aspirations of the people,” he added.

He also warned that any democracy that infringes “the inalienable human rights of citizens is despotism par excellence, even though it externally wears the toga of democracy.”

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