Contrary to insinuations that the bill on religious preaching in Kaduna State would ban evangelism, the state governor Mallam Nasir El' Rufai, yesterday clarified that it was meant to curb emerging religious extremism.
The governor, who made the clarifications at a forum organised by a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), Carefronting Nigeria in Kaduna, said his conce rn for the security of lives and property informed the proposal.
Carefronting Nigeria Coordinator, Peter Maji, said the group was moved to call stakeholders for discussion, because of the issues the bill have generated in the state and across the nation.
Maji argued that the forum tagged, "Kaduna State Religious preaching regulations Bill: Intention and perception," was aimed at getting the views of the critical stakeholders, and finding the way forward for peace and development of the state.
Represented by his spokesman, Mallam Samuel Aruwan, the governor disclosed that government appreciates the reservations and contributions of religious leaders, and other critical stakeholders who have made their genuine positions on the issues known.
He noted that it was unfortunate that some people have started politicising the good intention of government to restore peace in Kaduna.
He further stressed that in the bill, Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN) and Jama'atu Nasir Islam (JNI), would have a role, whereby strange ideological beliefs, that are not in tandem with both faiths will be checked.
According to him, just before the present government came on board, there were killings in Southern Kaduna and Birnin Gwari axis of the state, which have now come under control.
"Government wants to curb extremism associated with religious beliefs, and not to stop evangelism in the state, or stop people from practicing their faith," he explained.
The spokesman added that the, "Governor means well for the people, and wants to secure the lives and property of the residents of the state. There are emerging threats and we need to take drastic action now. We should all support this bill," he added.
The Director General, Interfaith Mediation, Namadi Musa, noted that members of the Interfaith Mediation have gone round the three senatorial zones, to sensitise the people.
He called on the state House of Assembly to make use of the public hearing opportunity, so that people can contribute their inputs.
Among the stakeholders present at the preaching bill roundtable included, the Christian Association of Nigeria, Ja'amatu Nasir Islam, JNI, Christian Lawyers, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, andother religious groups and Non Governmental Organisations.
Source: The Guardian