The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has said no to a bill seeking to prohibit and prevent religious discrimination against adherents and practitioners of different faiths and beliefs in Nigeria.
The association said that the bill is eventually passed into law will cause chaos, confusion, division and crises for Nigeria.
CAN made the declaration when the sponsor of the bill and member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Said Musa Abdullahi from Niger State, paid a courtesy call on its leadership to solicit their support.
The bill titled “Religious Discrimination (Prohibition, Prevention, ETC) Bill 2021)” essentially seeks to provide a mechanism for enforcing certain provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as altered, Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant national and international laws and conventions on religious freedom and tolerance.
Section 4(1) of part B of the bill read thus, “A person shall not, directly or indirectly or by any combination of the two, be intimidated, harassed, victimized or discriminated against on the basis of religious belief or activity or on the ground of manifestation of religion or religious belief or any other ground of a characteristic that people who have or engage in the religious belief or activity generally have; and on the ground of a characteristic that people who have or engage in the religious belief or activity are generally presumed to have or manifest which may include wearing religious emblem, head cover, hijab, scarf, habit, decent and modest religious dress”.
Speaking at the meeting in Abuja, yesterday, the President of CAN, Rev. Dr Samson Ayokunle, said the bill, if passed into law, will enforce discrimination rather than uniting the country.
He said, “We have laws already that can take care of discrimination. And if anyone is discriminated against, the court is open. The bill if passed will enforce discrimination rather than war against it.
“The bill is causing ‘wahala’. You don’t sit on my nose because you have a right to sit down. Beyond your good intent to solve a problem, we may be creating many other ones. There is no mutual respect.
“Your name will go into history as one who disregarded the rights of the Christians to promote their own in their institutions.
“Why do we have not to wage war against ourselves? Why do we want to wake up a problem which is sleeping?
“Wearing of hijab has not made any student more intelligent. Piety is in the heart. In a multi-ethnic nation like ours, school uniform creates uniformity, classless.
“Once you pass that bill, be prepared for a state of confusion”, he said.
The CAN president recalled the crisis in Kwara State, saying that a legal backing to a bill will escalate the situation.