Apostle Johnson Suleiman has joined Christians, across Kaduna state, who have continued to kick against Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s Religious Regulation Bill, voicing their opposition to the executive bill before the state House of Assembly, allegedly designed to restrict all forms of religious preaching in the state.
One of such critics of Gov El-Rufai’s religious bill is Apostle Johnson Suleiman, the Senior Pastor of Omega Fire Ministries (OFM), headquatered in Auchi, Edo State and President of Celebration TV.
Apostle Johnson Suleiman has in a video being circulated on social media warned the governor to “Revoke his law or die!”
Suleiman attacks El Rufai, saying he has no right to regulate the activities of religious leaders when he has not regulated the activities of traditionalist in the state, adding that before he, El Rufai, became governor, they were men of God and that they will still remain men of God when he leaves office.
In Apostle Suleiman’s words;
“I want to warn the governor of Kaduna state. Many times I have read in the papers how he abused Jesus and Christians came after him. He said that they are joking that nothing can happen. I am talking to you, Kaduna Governor.
“Listen, I am not against sanitizing a state but you say people should get licence for preaching; it is not applicable in Nigeria. Even a herbalist does not get a license for practicing herbalism.
“When you say license for preaching, then you are standing against the constitution that says freedom of worship. I have no problem, we can test powers now. There are certain laws that cannot happen in this country.
“Not when Nigeria is under God. If need be, over this matter, heaven will intervene. I am saying this specifically to the executive governor of Kaduna, revoke this law or die!” he said.
Christians who have kicked against the Religious Regulation Bill, argue that it is at variance with Section 38 of the 1999 Constitution which presupposes that every Nigerian has a right or freedom of thought, conscience and religion and a right to change religion.
The Religious Regulation Bill, designed to replace the Religious Regulation Edict of 1984, is geared towards regulating Christianity and Islam as it seeks to create an inter-faith Ministerial Committee to be appointed by the governor and exercise control over Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, and the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN.
It empowers the JNI and CAN to keep records of churches and mosques including data of preachers.
With this bill, the ministerial committee shall issue licenses to religious bodies and without such licenses, you cannot preach.
It highlights that no external preacher can preach in Kaduna without a permit.
The committee has the power to refuse to issue licenses, though no criteria is given as to what will qualify one to have a license issued to him or for one to be denied a license.
The bill is intended to stop the playing or circulating of “all cassettes, CDs, flash drives or any other communication gadgets containing religious recordings from accredited preachers other than inside one’s house, porch, Church, Mosques and other designated place of worship.
It also seeks to ban sales or playing of any cassette containing “religious recordings in which abusive language is used against any person or religious organisation or religious leaders (past or present).
The bill, if pasted into law, will prohibit sales of religious books, usage of abusive and derogatory terms in describing any religion.
The bill proposed that any person found guilty of preaching without a valid licence and other offences under the law shall be liable to two years in prison or pay a fine of N200, 000.