A State High Court sitting in Kaduna State, northern Nigeria, has declared the Religious Bill recently passed by the former State House of Assembly as “illegal“.
Naija News reports that Justice D. Gwadah in the ruling, held that the plan by Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s led Kaduna State government to issue licences to the pastors of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) using the Religious Regulatory Bill is a “gross violation of their fundamental human rights, which guarantees freedom of association and freedom of religion”.
The judge stressed that the passage of the religious bill is inconsistent with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
According to Justice Gwadah, the actions of the Kaduna State House of Assembly in proceeding to pass the bill into law despite the pending court proceedings and the subsisting court injunction restraining the action, “is an affront to this honourable court”.
This online news platform recalls that the Kaduna State chapter of the PFN, instituted the case against Kaduna State Governor (Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai), Kaduna State House of Assembly and the Attorney General of Kaduna State over the Kaduna State Religious Regulatory Bill.
In a reaction to the judgment, lawyers representing the respondents said their clients will go higher, meaning Gov El-Rufai and the Kaduna State House of Assembly will appeal the judgment.
However, the lead counsel to PFN, Barr S. A. Akani, who briefly addressed the press after the ruling, expressed satisfaction over the judgment on behalf of his client, the PFN.
PFN, had through its lead counsel, sought a declaration, among others that the establishment of Religious Preaching Regulatory Committees vide section 6(1) and (2) of bill for the Kaduna state religious preaching regulation law for the purpose of screening preachers and entertaining applications for preaching licences constitutes a blatant invasion of applicant’s fundamental right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion enshrined in section 38 (1) of the constitution and as such unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional.
Naija News understands that the Kaduna State chapter of PFN, which instituted the case, is a registered trustees body and hence, is an entity that has the power to sue and be sued but the power is limited to act on behalf of the members of the body.
This means that the Justice Gwadah ruling is applicable to the members of PFN but by implication, other Christians and Pastors can benefit indirectly from the ruling.