A Kaduna State High Court has declared as illegal the Religious Regulatory Bill passed by the House of Assembly, saying it infringed the fundamental rights of pastors to propagate Christianity in the state.
Specifically, Justice Hajara Gwadah ruled that the plan by the government to issue licences to the pastors of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), using the bill, is a gross violation of their fundamental human rights, which guarantees the freedom of association and freedom of religion.
The judge also declared the bill as inconsistent with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and, therefore illegal, null and void.
The PFN’s lead counsel, Sanni Akani, who spoke to journalists expressed satisfaction with the judgment, pointing out that “Section 38 (1) of the constitution allows everybody to propagate his religion, in teaching, actions, in observance, and in worship.
“When you now say pastors should be licensed, you have infringed that section 38.
That is why the court agrees with us that Section 6 of that bill that says that the government will set up a religious regulatory committee to screen pastors is against the constitution.”
Akani insisted: “The court said you can regulate religion, fundamental right is not absolute, but the issue of licensing pastors is against their constitutional rights.”
The state branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), described the verdict as a landmark victory for all religious bodies in Kaduna. (Guardian)