There are strong indications that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Okechukwu Enelamah, and the Executive Secretary of the Financial Regulatory Council of Nigeria, Mr. Jim Obazee, are currently engaged in a face-off over an FRCN regulation, which stipulates 20 years tenure for heads of religious groups and civil society groups in the country.
Our reporter reliably gathered in Abuja on Sunday that the minister had written the FRCN boss, directing him to suspend the implementation of the controversial regulation.
But it was learnt that Obazee defied the instruction of the minister, insisting that the implementation of the regulation would go ahead.
It was gathered that though the minister’s letter to the FRCN boss was written on October 17, 2016, the council had insisted on the resignation of heads of other affected groups.
The General Overseer of The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, had, on Saturday, announced Pastor Joseph Obayemi, as the new leader of the church in Nigeria.
The G. O. made the announcement at the church’s annual ministers’ thanksgiving held at the Redemption Camp in the Mowe area of Ogun State.
He cited a government regulation, which stipulates mandatory office tenure for general overseers of all registered churches, as the reason for the restructuring.
Adeboye had said the regulation would also be extended to clergymen such as Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church Worldwide International aka Winners Chapel; Pastor W. F. Kumuyi of the Deeper Christian Life Ministry and Bishop Mike Okonkwo of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission.
A source in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, who confided in The PUNCH, confirmed that the minister had written the Executive Secretary of the FRCN, directing him not to execute the regulation.
He stated, “There is an issue with the new code of corporate governance and the minister wrote the Financial Reporting Council and told the council not to execute it because a lot of people from the private sector have complained about it.
“So the minister wanted to look into it and see what the issues were. He (FRC boss) was asked not to go ahead with executing it. There is a controversy on that FRC issue and we are now looking into the matter to know what the issues are before we can finally take a decision. This is where the matter is currently.”
But a source in the FRCN, who spoke on Sunday on condition of anonymity, said the organisation would not heed the directive of the minister on the code.
The source added, “The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment wrote a letter to us saying that he didn’t want the code to be effective now and that he wanted it to be suspended for now.
“But you know in government circles, particularly in the public sector, when you are suspending something, you back it up with a paper – a gazette and all of that, but as it is now, there is no gazette.
“It must have a gazette, indicating that the law has been suspended. There is no gazette to that effect that this law has been suspended. So as it is now, the code has not been suspended because there is no gazette to that effect and that is where we are now.
“The code has been on naturally, right from (ex-President Goodluck) Jonathan’s time and this has been over four years. When the code was being done, we engaged all the stakeholders and their presentations formed part of what was in the code at the end of the day.
“The only people that took the matter to court were the churches and they lost. It was on the day they lost that our legal adviser said ‘okay, we could go ahead and release the code and that if we don’t release this code, other bodies will go to court to challenge it’.
“The private sector came to us three weeks ago and they told us the sections they wanted amended and we told them that we will look at it when we are doing what we call fine-tuning.”
When asked if the code was still effective, he said, “The code is still on as it stands now. All the banks are complying with the codes. If it has been suspended, why are they complying with it. The churches don’t want it and that was why they went to court and they have lost.
“So, the law is still in force. Mr. President is aware of this issue and he has not issued any directive to stop the law.”