An official of the Christian Association of Nigeria, on Sunday, said the law, regulating the tenure of the heads of not-for-profit and religious organisations, was created to weaken the church in the country.
He said although the government was hiding under the “good motive” to regulate the excesses of those organisations in Nigeria and ensure prudent management of offices and resources, there were ulterior motives behind the law.
He argued that a similar law, which compelled churches in Nigeria to surrender their mission schools, built by missionaries and churches to government, had been introduced in the past.
Samuel stated, “From the look of the law, it seems to have been enacted with a good motive to regulate the excesses of not-for-profit organisations in Nigeria and ensure prudent management of offices and resources.
“But in practical terms, we feel strongly that the law is targeted at weakening the church in Nigeria and ensure that the generals of the church, who have the vision of developing the church, are pulled off to make churches and members vulnerable to attacks.
“It is difficult for the church to keep quiet on such laws.
“While, as Christians, we are admonished by the Holy Bible to respect and be obedient to constituted authorities in our nation, we are sure it is in response and respect for this admonition that our highly-esteemed father, Pastor E. A. Adeboye, decided to resign his headship of The Redeemed Christian Church of God.’’
He added, “We will consult widely and study the law further and the future implications in line with our vision and calling as pastors, implications on our followers, and the motive of the law before taking the appropriate measures of clearly stating our opinion for or against the law to the authorities.
“Adeboye is not just a Redeemed Church pastor but a mentor, counsellor and distant pastor to a lot of Christians and non-Christians in Nigeria and the world over. We understand the news will take many by surprise but the fact that he remains the General Overseer (Worldwide) is enough consolation to most of us.”
Atiku, PDP, Oloyede, others react
Also, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar described Adeboye as a unique example of the kind of inspirational leadership he prayed that Nigeria continued to have.
Atiku said this in a series of tweets on his twitter handle, @atiku, on Sunday.
He said the clergyman’s influence cut across ethnicity, class and religion.
The former vice-president, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, in one of the tweets, said, “Pastor Adeboye is the kind of religious leader I pray that we see more of in Nigeria, while in another, he said, “He is a man beloved and who loves one and all without discrimination.”
He also said, “Some of the most prominent personalities Nigeria has been blessed with have been those who learnt from the pulpit of Pastor Adeboye. A most recent example is our current Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.”
A statement from his media office on the same subject on Sunday added, “The Turakin Adamawa (Atiku) also hailed the several efforts of Pastor Adeboye, which clearly went beyond the normal expectations for a preacher, such as his active participation in the war against HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, which saw the G. O. featured in an anti-AIDS advert that was aired on national television.
“In addition, the former Vice-President hailed the role that the G. O. has played as a converging figure for other religious leaders in Nigeria, many who openly attended his services or consulted with him despite being of different congregations.”
But the National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party frowned on the law for leaders of churches and any not-for-profit organisations.
The party said there were signs that the Federal Government was planning to control religious organisations in the country.
Spokesperson for the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led caretaker committee, Dayo Adeyeye, stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents on Sunday.
He said the PDP was not comfortable with the law as being implemented by the Federal Government.
Adeyeye said, “No, we are not comfortable with the law at all. It is an insidious attempt to exercise state control over religion and is a violation of the constitutional right to freedom of worship.
“It has a hidden sinister motive, especially for the Christian religion.”
A lawyer, Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa, said the emerging trend in the RCCG gave cause for serious concern.”
He compared what was happening in the church to what occurred in The Gambia, where the incumbent President called to congratulate the winner and conceded defeat, but later recanted.
The Public Relations Officer of CAN in the 19 northern states, John Hayab, said, “From the available press statement from The Redeemed Christian Church of God, I understand Papa Adeboye only did what godly leaders should do by reducing his workload and preparing others to take over when he is still alive, not when he dies and trouble will start.
“Appointing someone to be National Overseer is a show of maturity and our politicians and all other church leaders should emulate him for peaceful transition and transfer of power in every sector.”
In his own reaction, the immediate Secretary-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, said NSCIA was indifferent to the FRC Act.
He stated that the law was not strictly meant for religious organisations but for non-governmental organisations.
He spoke in an interview with journalists in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, on Sunday, on the sidelines of the 56th birthday anniversary of the General Secretary, National Union of Textile Garment Workers of Nigeria, Mr. Issa Aremu.
The occasion also marked the public presentation of two books written by Aremu.
Oloyede said, “I was a bit disturbed because rather than facing issues, we always divert attention. Was it (law) made by Buhari? The answer is no! It is not a new law; it has been there.
“When this law was made, our Christian counterparts approached Islamic groups to ask for our reaction and our reaction was indifference.
“I believe our Christian counterparts went to the former President about it. What they did or failed to do is not our business.
“When I read it in a daily today, I felt a bit disturbed that they were not honest enough to say that this is not a new law. I think some people are just hell bent in creating sensation and discrediting the government. It is unfair.
Oloyede stated that Adeboye should have explained to his congregation that the FRCN regulation was not a new law.
He said, “The impression was being given as if the present government created the law. Whether the law is good or bad, that is another thing and everybody can face that as it is.”