Several reactions have continued to trail the latest outburst of the Presiding Bishop of the Living Faith Church World, David Oyedepo regarding the application of the Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) in churches.
It will be recalled that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) into law on the 7th of August 2020.
Under the law, religious bodies and charity organizations will be strictly regulated by the registrar- general of corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and a supervising minister.
The law which stipulates that religious bodies and charity organizations across the country will now be strictly monitored and regulated by the government under the office of the Registrar – general of the corporate affairs commission, with this latest development, the trustees of any non-governmental organization, charity groups as well as religious bodies can be suspended by the corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) if found to have violated any of the provisions made by the Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA). Also based on the provisions of this law, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) can also choose or appoint an interim manager or managers to administer the affairs of the affected religious bodies that is church or the involving non-governmental organizations in Nigeria.
Reacting to this news, Oyedepo in a Sunday service with while addressing the members of his church frowned at the enactment of the Law, stating that it is out of place for the government to make such laws and that the emergence of such laws is bore out of jealousy on the part of the government about the prosperity recorded by the Church.
The Presiding Bishop of the Living Faith Church World, who is famously noted for his bold public utterances and comments regarding the running of the country and certain government policies, questioned the reasons behind subjecting religious bodies to the same laws that covers companies and other business ventures, as he stated that the Church is God’s heritage on the surface of the earth.
According to him, “the church is God’s heritage on earth, molest the wife of somebody and you will see the anger of that person. The church is the bride of Christ. You know how a strong man is when you tamper with his wife. The Church is the body of Christ. We are under obligation to give warnings to wicked rulers so we could be free from their blood,” Oyedepo stated.
“The Church works on the pattern delivered by God not the pattern of man. Government has no power to appoint people over churches. This is a secular nation. The church is the greatest asset of God in this country. Please be warned. Judgment is coming. The Lord says I have been still but now I will arise. Anybody that is in this deal is taking poison. This will never work. I am waiting for a day when somebody will appoint a trustee over this church… you can’t gag anybody. We owe this country together.”
It is only in Africa that people who are over 80 years still run around to become president. I know that it is prosperity of the Church that is making them jealous. But I am going to live to see an army of many winners soar greater. In this church shall emerge one of the largest concentrations of giants on earth”
While many Nigerians has taken to the various social media platforms to aire their opinion about this, an aide to the President Muhammadu Buhari on Socia Media, Lauretta Onochie, has berated the presiding Bishop of the Living faith Church Worldwide for kicking against the new enacted law.
Onochie sytated that,” I hope this is not true, if it is, Oyedepo will have to manufacture his own country and live by his own laws.
As long as he lives and operates within the entity called Nigeria, he will live by the Nigerian rules and laws. He will do as he is told by the law, enough of lawlessness.
In my opinion the Nigerian state is a secular state by design and the principle of secularism is to ensure that there is a separation of religious institution from the government affairs. However the enactment of the CAMA law is not one done in order to sabotage the Church or undermine its power or relevance. It is one made to regulate religious bodies as well as non-governmental organizations in the country.
It is a law which has existed with the corporate affairs Commission [CAC] to ensure that these stated bodies contribute their quota to the growth of this society. Churches are registered under Non-Governmental organizations and are often exempted from paying of taxes in the country. Thus if they are to enjoy this luxury, they need to give back to the society, adding to this there are various atrocities that are being perpetuated using the names of religious bodies and non-governmental organizations in the country.
The rejection of this law by Bishop Oyedepo might be understandable in some light given the peculiarities of the Nigerian Political system to always manipulate laws like this to their favor. The onus is now on the federal government to ensure that the system is now exploited for cheap political gains but for the purpose which it was intended and for the leaders of our various religious bodies to adopt diplomacy in the handling of national issues especially ones which has to do with their institution.
By Amudipe Marcus