The Kaduna State High Court has declared the state Religious Bill recently passed by the former State House of Assembly as illegal.
It could be noted that the Court noted that the plan by the Kaduna State government to issue licences to the pastors of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) using the Religious Regulatory Bill is a gross violation of their fundamental human rights, which guarantees freedom of association and freedom of religion.
The court, however, added that the passage of the religious bill is inconsistent with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
In reference to Hon Justice D. Gwadah, while passing the ruling, said that the actions of the Kaduna State House of Assembly in proceeding to pass the bill into law despite the pending court proceedings and the subsisting court injunction restraining the action, “is an affront to this honourable court”.
It is said that the case was instituted by the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) Kaduna chapter since 2016 against Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai, Kaduna State House of Assembly and the Attorney General of Kaduna State over the bill.
Reacting, a government counsel, said his clients (the respondents) will appeal the judgement.
But Mr S. A. Akani, (lead counsel to PFN), who briefed newsmen after the ruling, expressed satisfaction over the judgment on behalf of his client, the PFN.
Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, through its lead counsel, Mr S. A. Akani, had sought a declaration, among others that the establishment of Religious Preaching Regulatory Committees vide section 6(1) and (2) of a bill for the Kaduna State religious preaching regulation law for the purpose of screening preachers.
Akani also sought a declaration that entertaining applications for preaching licence constitute a blatant invasion of applicant’s fundamental right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion enshrined in section 38 (1) of the constitution and as such unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional.
As it seems, the power is limited to act on behalf of the members of the body. Hence, the court ruling is applicable to the members of PFN.
Though by implication, other Christians and Pastors can benefit indirectly from the ruling.