Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State has reportedly taken his intolerance for religion and seeking to subjugate religious organisations under his command has taken a drastic step towards clamping down on freedom of religion in Kaduna State.
According to a report in Leadership, Mallam El Rufai has sent a bill titled, ‘Law to substitute the Kaduna state religious preaching law, 1984′ to the Kaduna State House of Assembly with the view of regulating religious preaching and who can preach across the state.
The bill seeks to make provision for preachers to obtain licenses from the state government before they can preach and it therefore places the responsibility of certifying a religious preacher on the State government.
In a forum held in December 2015, the Governor had expressed his desire to advance this bill which encroaches on religious organisations and seeks to regulate their activities. Represented by his special adviser on Interfaith, Engineer Mohammed Namadi Musa at the closing ceremony of a six-day Da’awa symposium organised by International Islamic Relief Organisation, IIRO, for preachers and Qur’anic teachers in Kaduna, El-Rufai said, “Often times we use to say there is difference between someone knowledgeable, a teacher and a preacher.
“That I’m an engineer does not mean that I know how to teach engineering course. So also are those memorising Al-Qur’an and translating. It is not compulsory you know how to teach someone to memorise and translate. Preaching on the other hand, you must become a teacher and someone knowledgeable before you become a preacher, because preaching is not just about knowledge alone; you must possess the aging, cool headed or calmness.
“So we are thinking of putting in place a law in the state that will show who is supposed to preach and who is not. And we as politicians, we don’t have the knowledge to determine who is qualified and who is not. So we have to work hand in hand with the malams who will determine who is a knowledgeable one, a teacher and a preacher,” he told the gathering.
The bill is also targeted at banning the usage of loudspeaker for religious purposes “other than inside a Mosques or Church and the surrounding areas outside the stipulated prayer times.”
The governor is also asking the lawmakers to enact the law that will 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.”
Also, 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)” will also be banned as well as sales of religious books, usage of abusive and derogatory terms in describing any religion.
Anyone found guilty of violating the proposed bill without a valid license “shall be liable to two years in prison or pay a fine of N200, 000,” the governor stated, adding also that Sharia courts and customary courts under the bill shall have the jurisdiction to try violators if it is passed into law.
In 2015, soon after he was sworn into office, Governor El Rufai shut down two churches, a seminary, and a church hospital in Kaduna.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Senate has begun to investigate former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan as well as ministers who served under them.
The Senate says its move to probe the former presidents is in a bid to correct the alleged violation of the master plan of the nation’s capital city. Nasir El Rufai was minister of the Federal Capital Territory under President Obasanjo.