Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said on Thursday pastors in Nigeria are ready for accountability.
The vice president stated this during 60th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association.
The statement was a reaction to the controversy generated by the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020 signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on August 7.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and other preachers into the country, had rejected the law, especially the section 839 (1) and (2) of the Act which empowers the supervising minister “to suspend trustees of an association (in this case, the church) and appoint the interim managers to manage its affairs for some given reasons.”
Osinbajo advised religious leaders who have an axe to grind with the Federal Government over the CAMA Act to package their concerns in a proposal and forward to the National Assembly for an amendment.
He said: “The Companies and Allied Matters Act is a very huge legislation. It has over 800 sections or so; it is a massive regulation that covers a wide range of issues on companies, all sorts of issues on companies – general meetings, appointment of directors, etc.
“Now, there is a small section of it called the Incorporated Trustees Section. That small section of it is the section that regulates charities. Churches and mosques are regarded as charities.
“It is the Incorporated Trustees Section of the Companies and Allied Matters Act that has become controversial. And because churches are charities, provisions in the Incorporated Trustees Section obviously affect the churches.
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“What the churches are concerned about is the provision that says in the event that some wrongdoing is found or perpetrated by the trustees of a particular organisation or church, the Registrar-General can go to the court, get an order to appoint interim trustees for the church or for whichever organisation that be and as it were, manage the affairs of such a trust.
“The concern of the churches is that it could lead to a situation where practically anybody could be appointed as a trustee to oversee a church and a church obviously, a mosque or a religious organisation is obviously a spiritual organisation. And if you do not belong or you do not share that faith or have any faith at all, you may be the wrong person and the wrong person may be appointed and create more trouble than was initially the matter before the trustees were appointed.”
On accountability, the vice president added: “As a general position, I do not think it is right to say that pastors do not want to be accountable. As a matter of fact, as you know I am a pastor. I know that question is also partly directed to me. But I must say that is not the case. I believe that several Christian organisations and pastors are willing to be accountable.
“I think that the problem they may have is with ensuring that processes are not abused in such a way to compromise the entire organisation.”
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