As the Company and Allied Matters Act, CAMA, recently assented to by the President, Muhammadu Buhari continues to receive knocks and umbrage from various quarters particularly the Christian community under the umbrella of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, a member of the clergy in Benin, the Edo State capital, has expressed a contrary view. Applauding the law, Peter Obadan, former deputy governor in the state and a reverend gentleman, declared that the protest by Christian leaders was not in the protective interest of their members.
The new Companies and Allied Matter Act, (“CAMA 2020” or “the Act”) signed into law August 7, and which repeals the outdated 1990 law, introduces new provisions to reflect modern commercial realities as well as reduce compliance costs and regulatory hurdles for businesses in the country.
The Christian Association of Nigeria, prominent church leaders, and some non-governmental organisations, have however been kicking and calling for its withdrawal. Of particular concern, especially to the church leaders, is Section 839 of the Act which they contend, seemed to give the government powers to control religious centres and NGOs. Rejecting the section, CAN, in a statement August 20, 2020 described the law as satanic, unacceptable, and reprehensible. The association called on President Buhari to return the law to the National Assembly for amendment and stop its implementation until the religious institutions are exempted from it.
Special Assistant to the CAN President, Adebayo Oladeji, a pastor, who signed the statement, said while the association was not against the government fighting corruption, it however completely rejected the idea of bringing the church, which is technically grouped among the NGOs, under control of the government.
Frowning at what it described as the “satanic section” of the law – Section 839 (1) &(2), CAN noted that “it empowers the Commission to suspend trustees of an association (in this case, the church) and appoint the interim managers to manage the affairs of the association for some given reasons”. It insisted that the Church cannot be controlled by the government because of its spiritual responsibilities and obligations.
“It is an invitation to trouble that the government does not have power to manage. Let the government face the business of providing infrastructure for the people. Let them focus on better health provision, food, education, adequate security employment, etc. The government should not be a busy body in a matter that does not belong to it. The government does not have the technical expertise to run the church of God because of its spiritual nature.”
But stating his position on the issue in an interview with Tell, Obadan said “Unfortunately, I don’t agree with CAN”. According to him, “The section of the law we are weeping about is applicable in developed nations. The same law applies in UK wherein the Charity Commission becomes the watch dog of all NGOs. The import of this section passes the ownership of the Church to the members and not the self-proclaimed presidents and founders”.
Insisting that “No denomination is owned by a person, but rather by all the members with the singular objective of making heaven,” Obadan posited that “When a trustee entrusted with fiduciary responsibilities misappropriates or misapplies funds, after investigations and he is found wanting, he is dropped. And until the members vote in another trustee, the charity commission fills the gap; but to the best of my knowledge, they do not interfere with the spiritual activities of the Church”.
He explained that “Primarily, the sections of the law seek to control the excesses of trustees and I opine that this is what the Church leaders are protesting against”.