The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has filed a lawsuit before the Federal High Court Abuja challenging the legality of the just gazetted controversial Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020 (CAMA).
CAN disclosed this in a statement signed on Monday by its General Secretary, Joseph Bade Daramola, noting that the Christian body is not comfortable with the law.
The suit with number FHC/ABJ/CS/244/2021 was between the Incorporated Trustees of Christian Association of Nigeria, the Corporate Affairs Commission and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment.
According to the statement, legal luminaries representing CAN included Prof J. Amupitan (SAN), Wale Adesokan (SAN), Isaac Okpanachi, Comfort Otera Chigbue, Godswill Iyoke, Dr Cyril Obika, Geraldine Mbah, Francis Oronsaye, Oluniyi Adediji.
Others included Charles Ndukwe, Emmanuel Ekong, Darlington Onyekwere, Madu Joe-Kyari Gadzama, Lama Joe-Kyari Gadzama, Rev Fr. Joseph Ilorah, Jerry Onbugadu Musa, and Amazing Ikpala.
The plaintiff counsels were led Joe-Kyari Gadzama when the case was mentioned at the Abuja court today.
On its decision to approach the court, CAN explained that “all attempts to convince the Federal government why it should not intervene or interfere with the management of the Church in the country through any of its agencies failed.”
It noted that leaders present in the court included the “General Secretary, Joseph Bade Daramola, Esq., Elder Kunle Fagbemi, Senator Philip Gyunka, Elder Tunde Adegbesan, Rev. Dr. Testimony Onifade, the Director, Legal and Public Affairs, Comfort Otera Chigbue, Esq., and Senator Jonathan Zwingina.”
Reminiscing the said Act, President Muhammadu Buhari had on August 7, 2020 signed the Companies and Allied Matters Bill, 2020.
The assent repeals and replaces the extant Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990, that lasted 30 years.
CAN’s position is in strong contrast to that of the Presidency which hailed the new law as innovative and “geared toward enhancing the ease of doing business in the country”.
Following the presidential assent last year August, prominent bodies including CAN and the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) asked President Buhari to rescind his assent to the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020.
And succinctly, Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, the Special Assistant on Media and Communications) to CAN President, Rev Dr Samson Ayokunle in a statement said, “The law, to say the least, is unacceptable, ungodly, reprehensible, and an ill-wind that blows no one any good. It is a time bomb waiting to explode,”
“The satanic section of the controversial and ungodly law is Section 839 (1) & (2) which empowers the Commission to suspend trustees of an association (in this case, the church) and appoint the interim managers to manage the affairs of the association for some given reasons,” it said.
“While we are not against the government fighting corruption wherever it may be found, we completely reject the idea of bringing the Church, which is technically grouped among the NGOs, under control of the government. The Church cannot be controlled by the government because of its spiritual responsibilities and obligations.”
It said, “This is why we are calling on the Federal government to stop the implementation of the obnoxious and ungodly law until the religious institutions are exempted from it.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently return the law to the National Assembly for immediate amendment. Nigeria should not be compared with any other nation when it comes to the relationship between religious institutions and the government. In Nigeria, people’s religions are tied to their humanity and of course, their life,” the statement read.
Whereas SERAP requested Buhari to send the legislation back to the National Assembly to address its fundamental flaws, CAN rejected the piece of legislation, saying churches cannot be controlled by the Nigerian government.