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CAMA: HURIWA backs Oyedepo, CAN against Buhari’s controversial new law

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, on Saturday described the amended Company and Allied Matters Act 2020, CAMA, signed by President Muhammadu Buhari as satanic.

HURIWA said the amended CAMA Act was an affront on democracy and aimed at instilling dictatorship in Nigeria.

The rights advocacy group urged the “Federal government to immediately expunge toxic provisions in the amended CAMA Act 2020 which seeks to disempower Non-Governmental bodies and churches and silence independent voices and opinions.

The group says the move is a ”direct affront on constitutional democracy and a new form of dictatorship.”

A statement signed by the right group’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko says it is backing Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church and the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in their position on the CAMA Act.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on August 7, 2020, signed the amended CAMA Act into law.

Reacting, both Oyedepo and CAN had faulted the Act, described as satanic and ungodly legislation directed against the church.

However, HURIWA, in a statement, lamented that the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, which would ensure the enforcement of CAMA is controlled by “Hausa-Fulani.”

The statement reads partly: “A more recent obstacle to the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms and human rights as encapsulated in the Nigerian Constitution and international agreements that Nigeria signed into, which includes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the African Charter and People’s Rights is the amendments to the Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020, which forms the fulcrum of the statement.

“On August 7, 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the Company and Allied Matters Act, 2020 (CAMA 2020), which repeals and replaces the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990. The controversial section 839 (1) and (2) provides that religious bodies and non-governmental organisations will be strictly regulated by the Registrar-General of Corporate Affairs Commission and a supervising minister.

“The law also wields power to suspend the trustees of an association or a religious body and appoint an interim manager or managers to coordinate its affairs where it reasonably believes that there had been any misconduct or mismanagement, or where the affairs of the association are being run fraudulently or where it is necessary or desirable for the purpose of public interest.

“On the crest of the desire of the people, the bill that sought to bring the religious organisations and NGOs under the control and influence of the government was rejected because it would kill the church, but regrettably it is now smuggled into CAMA through the ambush and making the rejected bill a law.

“This is of utmost concern because the establishment of a church has a spiritual foundation and the invitation of a manager who obviously does not share the spiritual insight of the founders of the church would undermine the church, insidiously defeating its purpose. How can a secular and political minister be the final authority on the affairs and management of another institution which is not political?

“Again, we discovered that CAC which will control Churches and NGOs has always been controlled by Hausa Fulani Moslem Northerners since inception. Even when Mrs. Azinge acted briefly, President Buhari brought up kangaroo charges of non-declaration of assets to unseat her so as to make way for the candidate of the Moslems, controlled from the Sultanate in Sokoto. How then can a non-Christian head of government ministry be empowered to determine the running of the church as envisaged by the CAMA 2020?

“The amendment to CAMA is an NGO Bill in disguise because what NASS failed to do before through the NGO Bill they have now achieved through the backdoor. Obviously, the legislative & regulatory agenda of the present NASS as illustrated in several of their proposed legislations appears to be aimed at attacking freedom of speech & civil space and to abrogate property & economic rights.

“The clause in section 839 of CAMA which shows that an order of court is required to suspend the trustees of an NGO under that section the extant principles of Nigerian administrative law are adequate to ensure that the wrongful exercise of the regulatory powers of the CAC are brought under the supervisory control of the courts is misleading and deceptive owing to the sabotage and the undermining going on in our nation’s judicial system.

“HURIWA is totally in support of Rev. David Oyedepo and the organised body of Christians that opposed the amendments. We join our voices with theirs to task the federal government to immediately expunge those toxic provisions. We also urge Nigerians to institute multiple court cases to challenge these illegalities.

“Just like CAN rightly noted, Nigeria should not be compared with any other nation when it comes to the relationship between the religious institutions and the government. In Nigeria, people’s religions are tied to their humanity and of course, their life. How can the government sack the trustees of a church which it contributed no dime to establish? In other climes, bodies registered as charities enjoy some forms of funding support from the public fund so such stringent rules on management are permissible but not the same position in Nigeria in which the Nigerian government has no role in the funding of non-governmental bodies.

“In Nigeria, there is a clear separation between church and state and it is strange for the government to enjoy the arbitrary powers to suo moto nominate trustees for organisations that are Non-Governmental because this is a direct injury to the operational independence of non-governmental groups and a way to kill the vibrancy of the civil society.”