Proposed religious law is to curb extremism, says Kaduna

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Nasir El-Rufai

Nasir El-Rufai

Community protests against govt’s plan to demolish houses

After heavy criticism from the public, Kaduna State Government Wednesday explained that it sponsored the bill on religious laws to protect the state from religious extremism.

The government also revealed that a bill to check the activities of Muslim and Christian preachers in the state is currently in the state House of Assembly and is expected to be passed into law soon.

Deputy Governor of the state, Mr. Barnabas Yusuf Bala, told a delegation of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Kaduna State chapter which visited him over the issue, that the bill is not aimed at clamping down on any religion but to ensure that religious violence is no longer a threat to the state.

Meanwhile, about 3,000 residents of Gbagyi settlement in Chikun Local Council of Kaduna yesterday protested against the state government’s plan to demolish structures in the area.

About 2,000 houses have already been earmarked for demolition by the government in the community.

Kaduna State Urban and Property Development Agency (KAPSUDA), has also marked various structures in the area for demolition within 21 days for not obtaining building permit from the agency before erecting the houses.

The ultimatum given by the government is expected to end next week.

Bala said: “There is nothing in the bill that suggests any effort to abolish or stop the freedom of religion and religious beliefs. It merely seeks to ensure that religious preaching and activities in the state are conducted in ways that do not threaten public order, public safety, and to protect the rights and freedom of other persons.”

Bala said: “This is the first time that the legislation is passing through a democratic process, with all the transparency that the public hearing and other legislative processes of the House of Assembly entails.”

The state CAN Chairman, Bishop George Dodo, expressed appreciation for the meeting and assured the government that CAN is preparing its position for submission to the House of Assembly and the state executive.

Speaking on the planned demolition, Chairman of Gbagyi community, Mr. Chris Obodumu, told journalists that contrary to KAPSUDA’s claim, the houses were built only after obtaining the permit.

Governor El-Rufai’s media aide, Mallam Samuel Aruwan yesterday explained that government was only out to recover land illegally acquired in the affected area.


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