U.S based Nigerian preacher, Apostle Courage Igene, Senior Pastor of All Nations Church Int’l, has described as inappropriate the attempt by the Federal Government of Nigeria to interfere in the affairs of churches in the country through the Companies & Allied Matters Act( CAMA) recently passed into law by the government. In this interview with Emma Clem, Apostle Igene appeals to Nigerian Church leaders to speak with one voice to reject the controversial CAMA law. Excerpts.
Please what is your take on the amended CAMA that was recently signed into law by the Federal Government of Nigeria?
In the Nigerian 1999 constitution as amended, there is separation between church and state. If they were calling for churches to be transparent with their books, it would have been okay even though it is none of their business. But to say government can remove Board of Trustees any time they like and replace with anyone and the Court can’t do anything about it, shows that the law is appalling, tyranny, maliciously conceived and such law should be not enacted in any democratic society in the world.
Some Nigerian pastors have kicked against the law saying it is a deliberate attempt by the government to interfere in the affairs of churches. What is your opinion?
Yes it is. Most churches have proven to be well run better than the federal government. Government should immediately back off the church and focus on governing. There is little or no trust between the government and the church. The church does not trust the sincerity of the government, so it may be difficult for the church to trust the government in the case of CAMA.
How best do you think the church leadership under the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) should handle this controversial matter?
They should reject it in the strongest terms and stand by it. No room for compromise.
It was gathered that a similar law exists in the U.S. As a U.S based Nigerian preacher, please share with us how the law operates in America?
That is not true. In the USA, government does not interfere with the church except to support with a loan or something. But to say government can remove Board of Trustees anytime they like and replace with anyone they like is a blatant lie from the pit of hell.
In what ways do you think the CAMA law would affect the future of churches in Nigeria if it is not reversed or suspended by the government?
It will give rise to more draconian laws.
What do you think the government aims to achieve with the CAMA law?
It is aimed to cause distraction and confusion.
Some people have argued that if churches are doing no wrong and their books are clean, they should not fear submitting themselves to the financial scrutiny by the government. What is your opinion on this?
You can only open to the government if they provide support to the church. Other than that, the law is dead on arrival.
How justifiable is the government argument that the CAMA Law is in public interest?
That argument should be taken with a pinch of salt.
How can the churches in Nigeria unite to get the CAMA law reversed or suspended?
They should speak with one voice. And I also urge the federal government to do the needful to reverse this obnoxious law which is totally unacceptable.