Ita Enang, an aide of President Muhammadu Buhari on national assembly matters, says the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020 is not targeted at religious bodies.
On August 7, President Muhammadu Buhari signed CAMA into law. The law requires religious bodies and charity organisations to be strictly regulated by the registrar-general of Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and a supervising minister.
CAMA provides that the commission may by order, 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 has 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.
Many religious leaders, particularly pastors, have kicked against the law saying it is a declaration of war against the church.
David Oyedepo, presiding bishop of Living Faith Church Worldwide, had said the law wasborne of out the government’s jealousy about the prosperity recorded by the church.
But in an interaction with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), in Abuja on Tuesday, Enang, senior special assistant to the president on Niger Delta affairs, said it is false to believe that CAMA 2020 is targeted at religious bodies.
He said members of the opposition had spread false information making the law appear as a move against religious bodies.
Enang said Buhari had earlier refused to assent to the bill until the content was altered in the interest of the general public.
“Misconceptions have enveloped this ACT with deliberate misinformation and falsehood by persons who may not have fully and in-fact personally read and digested the provision of the act. We consider it appropriate and responsible to appear before you and other fora to make these explanations,” he said.
“First, the bill as it then was, was not an executive bill transmitted by President Buhari to the legislature but initiated by a Senator and member of the House in the respective chambers, at the behest of the Corporate Affairs Commission and support of the Ministry of Trade and Investment. It was therefore not an executive bill, but upon passage was transmitted to Mr. President for assent.
“Secondly, upon receipt of same for assent, Mr. President in accordance with extant best practice escalated the measure to appropriate Ministries, Departments and Agencies who made different inputs some of which lead to Mr. President declining assent twice to the bill in the entire tenure or life of the 8th Assembly.
“Thirdly, as the 9th Assembly inaugurated, the bill was again re-introduced by Senators and Honourable members and all the observation made on the 8th Assembly bill incorporated and addressed, without any amendment or insertion and IN WHOLE passed by the two chambers and being without differences was transmitted to Mr. President for assent.
“It is pertinent to state that prior to this ACT, Incorporated Trustees or Law of Trust was regulated by the COMPANIES AND ALLIED MATTER ACT,1990, now repealed by the 2020 CAMA. This shows that trusteeship as now complained of was regulated by an ACT which has been in existence for 30 years and the practice and complaint arising therefrom can only reasonably generate improvement, amendment and incorporation of International best practice as in other nation states as well as guidance from judgement of court on matters relating thereto in the 2020 CAMA subject of this brief.
“We want to declare as a fact, that the Act does not target churches or religious bodies as wrongly assumed. For illustration of this I present a tabular form of the provisions of the 1990 ACT which came into force on January, 2nd 1990, which after more than 30 years of operation has now been repealed and replaced by CAMA 2020 hereunder are the comparative provisions in the two enactments to show particularly that the 2020 ACT assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari has not introduced any matter oppressive to the Christian Community or any religion nor any matter discriminatory against any class of persons in Nigeria.”
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo had earlier counselled church leaders who are aggrieved over CAMA 2020 to approach the national assembly.