…says it fails to accommodate churches’ position
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), yesterday, demanded an immediate suspension of the implementation of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020, for failing to accommodate the yearnings and aspirations of the Christian community in Nigeria.
The demand which was conveyed in a position paper addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, was delivered by a former Chaplain of Aso Villa Chapel and General Overseer of All Christians Fellowship Mission, Maitama, Rev. Dr. William Okoye.
It was received by the Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang, during a brief ceremony held at the secretariat of CAN in Abuja. In letter signed by the CAN President, Dr. Samson Ayokunle, the umbrella body of all Christians in Nigeria described the recently amended legislation as a document laden with issues that were grossly inimical to national interest, peace, stability and overall wellbeing of Nigeria.
The letter reads: “We respectfully acknowledge the invitation extended to us to make an input into the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), 2020 following the myriad of objections that attended the enactment of the Act. “While we sincerely appreciate the courtesy of your invitation, we are however constrained from doing so on the following grounds: “We are yet to be availed with the authentic version of the voluminous Act, made up of 870 sections besides the sundry and complex schedules and addendum.
“We consider the Act, as indeed, a complex of statecraft compendium, laden with issues that are grossly inimical to national interest, security (peace and stability), and overall wellbeing of the Nigerian-state. “From the reactions of stakeholders and a cross section of the Nigerian State, it is apparent that the Act either did not receive input from the respective various interest groups or failed to accommodate their views, sundry concerns and varying interests of the Nigerian people.
“Without prejudice to our observations, such a law ought to welcome and accommodate the sundry and varying interests of the Nigerian people. “Furthermore, we are mindful that comments in public domain are beginning to indicate that CAMA, 2020 has the potential that can further undermine the faith of stakeholders in the Nigerian State.
The reactions from public officeholders have not helped matters because they are binary in perspective and pander towards a fait accompli. “The dominant schools of thought in the public domain, hold the view that should stakeholders of the Nigerian State seek judicial intervention or amendment of the Act by the National Assembly, they shall achieve nothing much, as they consider such, as exercises in futility. “We must allay their fears and encourage them to exercise their democratic rights in our participatory democracy; hoping that when citizens approach these state institutions, they shall rise up to the challenge.”
Consequently, CAN advised the President to suspend the implementation of the Act. “Mr. President, from the foregoing, we are of the opinion that you should kindly issue the appropriate directives to suspend the implementation of CAMA 2020 and affirm a thorough reappraisal of the legislation that is in correlation with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended), other extant legal and policy frameworks, the national economy, national security, national interest and the wellbeing of the Nigerian State. “In order to participate actively in such an exercise, you may wish to kindly furnish us with an official version as assented by you.
This will enable us do the due diligence required, please,” Ayokunle said. However, the Federal government has assured the leadership of CAN that contrary to public perception, the churches and mosques were not the target of the legislation. Enang gave the assurances during an interaction with CAN in Abuja.
The meeting, which was organised for the purposes of giving enlightenment to the Christian body over the contentious provisions of the CAMA, also saw the Presidential aide swearing to an oath to assure the church in Nigeria that he had come to them with the whole truth about the new law.
He lamented that some politicians, especially those from the opposition, had wrongly portrayed the intents and purposes of the Act, giving it an anti-religious colour. He said the misconceptions that had trailed the Act had found their ways in through deliberate misinformation, adding that though some had intended to blackmail President Buhari with it, he was not the sponsor and had at previous occasions withheld assent to it when he was not convinced it was good enough for Nigeria.
“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. “First, the bill as it then was, was not an executive bill transmitted by President Buhari to the legislature but initiated by a Senator and member of the House in the respective chambers, at the behest of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and support of the Ministry of Trade and Investment.
It was therefore not an executive bill, but upon passage was transmitted to Mr. President for assent. “Second, upon receipt of same for assent, Mr. President in accordance with extant best practice escalated the measure to appropriate Ministries, Departments and Agencies who made different inputs some of which lead to Mr. President declining assent twice to the bill in the entire tenure or life of the 8th Assembly. “Third, as the 9th Assembly inaugurated, the bill was again re-introduced by Senators and Honourable members and all the observations made on the 8th Assembly bill incorporated and addressed, without any amendment or insertion and in whole passed by the two chamrian bers and being without differences was transmitted to Mr. President for assent. “We want to declare as a fact, that the Act does not target churches or religious bodies as wrongly assumed.
For illustration of this I present a tabular form of the provisions of the 1990 Act which came into force on January, 2nd 1990, which after more than 30 years of operation has now been repealed and replaced by CAMA 2020 hereunder are the comparative provisions in the two enactments to show particularly that the 2020 ACT assented to by President 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 said.