The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) may consider a legal option against the Federal Government if the controversial Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020 it recently signed was not amended.
CAN gave this hint on Friday during an interview, noting that it would cross the bridge when it got there.
This is just as the House of Representatives faulted CAN for criticising CAMA after it had been passed by the National Assembly and received presidential assent. The House, therefore, urged the Christian body to approach the National Assembly for amendment of the CAMA Act.
President Muhammadu Buhari on August 7 signed CAMA into law, with the government receiving knocks and kudos since then over some controversial provisions of the law.
CAN noted that it would explore options available to it to get CAMA amended, just as the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria argued that CAMA would not work in Nigeria, despite being copied from the United Kingdom and United States of America.
Asked if CAN was considering a legal action, Pastor Bayo Oladeji, the Special Adviser on Media to the CAN President, Rev Supo Ayokunle, said, “Why don’t you let us get to that bridge before we cross it? Do you want us to open our arsenals and tell the whole world our weapon? Let them (the government) reject first.
“We have already told them our position. I have been going through what a spokesperson of the National Assembly said that we can bring in our own suggestions or amendment. We are looking at that option and our lawyers are working on it. The court is there. Our stand is that we are going to follow every lawful means to make sure that the obnoxious law is amended.
“The purpose of the law is to bring peace and order and not to cause a crisis. The government is not doing well at all. Our stand is to let them amend the law and if they say no, we (the government) are not going to amend the law, we will look for the next action to be taken.”
But the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Benjamin Kalu, who spoke for the Reps, asked those aggrieved with some provisions of the CAMA Act to approach their representatives at the National Assembly and seek amendment of the law.
Speaking to one of our correspondents on the telephone on Thursday night, Kanu noted that it took the National Assembly over two years to process the bill. He also noted that the old CAMA Act had become obsolete after about 30 years. He also said the passage and presidential assent to the legislation were in response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kalu said, “The people who are complaining at the moment are supposed to have compliance officers in their various organisations and they ought to know when this law was coming up and what it was bringing on board, to be able to make their input at the public hearing. If they did not do that, they also share in the blame.
“If there are gaps, as being agitated, there is still a room for an adjustment to be made. It is not right to call it time bomb at the moment. It is not a time bomb because there is still a constitutional window created for the adjustment of any piece of legislation that is made for the people. Those who are concerned at the moment should look for the window, which is called amendment.
“If there are concerns, the legislators that drafted the Constitution knew that a piece of legislation will not go down well with all the people. To argue that everything about that legislation is bad or perfect is erroneous.
“My encouragement to those who are agitated is to approach their representatives, have an audience with them; let the representatives represent them before the National Assembly and call for amendment of any part that is not suitable for the people. This is my call to Nigerians to calm down and not see it as the end of it.”
The House’ spokesman warned against statement that could cause crisis over the CAMA Act.
“The non-governmental organisations, the churches – which I belong to – and other people that are complaining at the moment should know that there is still a window for amendment. Let us not use statements that are capable of causing division, fear and tension in the country. Let us approach it through the legislative processes laid down by the Constitution,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria National Publicity Secretary, Bishop Emmah Isong, stated that CAMA was “smuggled from overseas” into Nigeria without having the right structure to implement it.
He said, “The PFN totally disagrees with CAMA. It was not done in alliance with the present situation of democracy in Nigeria. It was not done in consultation with churches and ministries. So, it is a breach of our constitutional rights.
“This is not a priority for this present government. Our priority is the security of lives and property. Our priority is to revive the economy. Our priority is to fight corruption. Our priority is not to fight already established institutions which are running well.
“These laws thrived in UK because the laws of Britain even support the church. Nigeria went to Britain to hijack and copy a law. They don’t know the modus operandi. In UK and USA, if you pay the tithe, the tithe is refunded as taxation. But Nigeria does not have such provision. They copy and they do not know the other side of the coin.”
Also, the Methodist Church Nigeria kicked against CAMA, saying it contradicted the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Christian body would do “everything within our powers” to make the Federal Government do away with the law.
The Prelate, Dr Samuel Uche, in an interview on Friday, said, “CAMA is anti-Christian. It is repressive. It is obnoxious and dictatorial. I was part of the people in CAN leadership who took the decision we put out on Thursday. We condemned it totally and any action, we are going to take will not be church by church. It will be as CAN. That is what we have decided.”
On whether a legal action was being considered, he added, “We will do everything within our powers to make them see reason. If they don’t see reason, I think the law will take its course. Nothing, no bill or motion, can go contrary to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which guarantees the freedom of religion, association and speech.
“No subsidiary law can be greater than the main laws governing the country. So, what we are saying is that nobody should breach the laws of our country as we know them.” – Punch.