Uyo – The Akwa Ibom Branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has called for the establishment of a Bureau of Religious Affairs to checkmate fake pastors.
The Akwa Ibom CAN Chairman, Bishop Cletus Bassey, made the call on Wednesday in Uyo when he appeared before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Witchcraft Accusations and Child Abuse sitting in Uyo.
The CAN chairman was invited by the panel following a written memorandum submitted by the association to the panel.
Bassey told the panel that the activities of some pastors, who exploit the child witch syndrome in the state for commercial gains, had become worrisome.
He said that the stigmatisation of children alleged to be witches was unacceptable amongst its members but that some unregistered religious organisations were involved in conducting deliverance for a fee.
Bassey said that this practice was outside the control of CAN.
“That is the reason why we are urging the government to empower CAN to regulate the activities of every religious organisation in the state with a view to sanitising the situation.
“The impression that churches in Akwa Ibom stigmatise and torture children is false and blown out of proportion.
“We in CAN condemn the operation of the fraudulent pastors and churches that charge money for deliverance of people and we cannot allow that to continue,” he said.
In his response, the Chairman of the panel, Justice Abraham Joseph, said that CAN was expected to protect the integrity of the churches.
He urged CAN to evolve a mechanism to check the activities of its members and ensure that non members of the association were monitored.
It will be recalled that the six-member judicial panel sworn in by the Akwa Ibom Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio on Nov. 22, 2010, commenced sitting on January. (NAN)