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JNI, Shiites differ on Kaduna religious law

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Kaduna State governor Nasir El-Rufai PHOTO: TWITTER/GOVERNOR KADUNA


As Assembly Passes Bill Banning Open Preaching
Jamatul Nasirul Islam (JNI) and the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), known as Shiites, have disagreed on the passage of the Religious Preaching Regulation law by Kaduna State House of Assembly.

Three years after the religious bill was censured by different religious bodies and individuals, the Assembly eventually passed the bill last Friday for public hearing and signing into law by Governor Nasir el-Rufai.

The bill aims to regulate religious preaching in the state, with a view to promoting religious harmony and peaceful co-existence among the residents.

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A local government inter-faith committee has been established in each of the 23 councils of the state to consider and recommend to the state inter-faith regulation council all applications for licence to preachers, as well as screen and recommend preachers, among other functions.

The supplementary provision in the bill also explains that all gadgets containing religious recordings from accredited preachers may be played inside a private dwelling unit or vehicle, entrance porch (zaure), church, mosque and any other designated place of worship.

It adds that any person who plays religious recording or uses a loud speaker for religious purposes between 11pm and 4am in a public place, or uses a loudspeaker for religious purposes other than inside a church or mosque commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for not less than two years or pay a fine of N200,000 or both.

The bill added that any person who publicly insults or seeks to incite contempt on any religion, likely to lead to a breach of peace, shall be imprisoned for not less than five years or pay a fine of not less than N100,000 or both.While JNI described passage of the bill as welcome development, IMN said the Kaduna government was only domesticating laws to suit its selfish interest.

Legal adviser to JNI, Muhammad Shamwilu, told The Guardian that passage of the bill came at the appropriate time, to prevent religious crises in the state.“This will curb future occurrence of crises in the society. Some people are agitating that Shiites abuse the wife of the holy prophet and that is why they were after them. When we met at the State House, everybody that hate speeches should be included in the bill.”

National secretary of IMN, Abdulmumini Giwa, said the movement had always being at the receiving end of the state government’s stringent policies, describing the bill as a plan by government to deny individuals the right to practise their religion.

Giwa, who insisted that the movement is law-abiding, said: “What we understand constitutionally in Nigeria is that there is freedom of religion. This implies that everyone has the right to practise the faith of his choice. In a situation where the government will only license those it chooses, then freedom of religion has been violated. This is a breach of the Constitution itself.”

Asked how the law will affect activities of IMN, Giwa said: “What I know is that our activities are still within the ambit of the Constitution. We have the right to practise our religion and nobody can stop us. So, sponsoring a fake law and bill and putting them into practice for selfish interest will never stop us.”Efforts to get the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to react to the development was futile, as both the state chairman, Rev. John Hayab, and his secretary, Rev. Sunday Ibrahim, did not answer phone calls put through to them.

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