Sonnie Ekwowusi, chairman of the Human and Constitutional Rights Committee of the African Bar Association, has alleged that a bill is being considered by a council in Abuja constituted by the Federal Government that would regulate the practice of Christianity in Nigeria. The bill would require pastors and priests to obtain a license before they can preach.
He said in an interview with Arise Tv news that the Bill will force pastors and priests to get a license before mounting the pulpit to preach before any congregation.
Ekwowusi argues that the bill violates section 38 of the 1999 constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion. He also says that the bill is unnecessary, as the state and the Christian faith are two separate entities.
“The function of this council in Abuja is to regulate the Christianity religion,” Ekwowusi said. “Pastors and Priests will need to have a license before they can preach. This means that if you are holding a Christian crusade in Lagos and you don’t have a license from this council, they will shut it down. And we are saying this is not proper.”
Ekwowusi also expressed concern that the bill would give the council too much power over the Christian faith. “So pastors will have to be certified and trained by this council, I mean, this is not acceptable in a Democratic Nation,” he said.
It is unclear whether the bill will be passed, but Ekwowusi’s comments have sparked a debate about the role of the state in regulating religion in Nigeria.
However, many Christian Leaders have Condemned Bill to Regulate Practice of Christianity in Nigeria.