CAMA Is Not Targeted At Religious Bodies – Presidency

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Presidency has denied speculations that the controversial Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020 is targeted at Christians, Muslims and other religions.

The Act which President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law on August 7 has sparked controversy among religious bodies over allegations that some sections of the Act are ‘outrageous’.

Under the new law, religious bodies and charity organisations will be strictly regulated by the registrar-general of Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and a supervising minister.

CAMA provides that;

The commission may by order, suspend the trustees of an association or a religious body and appoint an interim manager or managers to coordinate its affairs where it reasonably believes that there has been any misconduct or mismanagement, or where the affairs of the association are being run fraudulently or where it is necessary or desirable for the purpose of public interest.

Christian Association of Nigeria had called on President Buhari to suspend the implementation of the Act over sections it believes are against Christianity.

Former Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly matters, and Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang, has on Tuesday however denied the speculation of using the Act against Christians and other religious sect.

He made the clarification during a brief ceremony held at the secretariat of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Abuja, where he received the position of the association regarding the Act on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Enang argued that sections of the Act being disputed by religious bodies, especially Christians, were not new and had been in the 1990 Act, which was recently amended.

Speaking when he led a delegation on a visit to the President of CAN, Rev Dr. Samson Ayokunle, to discuss the controversy said Buhari has no bad intention against Christianity or any other religion.

According to Enang, the Act which has become a law by assent, can only be amended by the National Assembly and not the President.

Enang told the CAN President the only option left was to sponsor a bill to the National Assembly to amend the Act.

He recalled that Incorporated Trustees or Law of Trust was regulated by Companies and Allied Matter Act 1990 before the National Assembly passed it and the President assented to it.

The Special Assistant noted that the President had withheld assent to the amendment over disputed sections but later signed the Act into law when it seemed the conflict areas were cleared.

He said;

Misconceptions have enveloped this Act with deliberate misinformation and falsehood by persons who may not have fully and in-fact personally read and digested the provision of the Act. We consider it appropriate and responsible to appear before you and other fora to make these explanations.

We want to declare as a fact, that the Act does not target churches or religious bodies as wrongly assumed. For an illustration of this, I present a tabular form of the provisions of the 1990 Act which came into force on January 2, 1990, which after more than 30 years of operation has now been repealed and replaced by CAMA 2020.

Enang expressed that;

Hereunder are the comparative provisions in the two enactments to show particularly that the 2020 Act assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari has not introduced any matter oppressive to the Christian Community or any religion nor any matter discriminatory against any class of persons in Nigeria.

He argued that the Act, having become a law, could not be tampered with by the President except CAN sponsored an amendment bill to amend sections it considered offensive.