Some Clerics in Lagos on Monday expressed divergent views on the law by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) stipulating a maximum period in Office for heads of registered Churches, Mosques and Civil Society Organisations.
The law, the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria Act, No. 6 of 2011, prescribes a maximum period of 20 years in Office for heads of registered Churches, Mosques and Civil Society Organisations.
The law recently led the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye, to announce a National Overseer for RCCG Nigeria on Jan. 7.
In interviews, some of the Clerics condemned the law, while others said it was a step in the right direction.
Monsignor Gabriel Osu, the Director of Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, said that the law was condemnable, noting that the government does not own the churches.
“They are not government churches. What has government got to do with the Churches, Mosques, and the Civil Society Organisations?
“As far as I know in Nigeria today, we don’t have government churches. Church leaders or Pastors are not civil servants. They are purely spiritual leaders,’’ he said.
Pastor Tunde Bakare, the Convener, Save Nigeria Group (SNG) and Senior Pastor, Latter Rain Assembly (LRA), however, urged church leaders to demonstrate exemplary leadership by complying with the law of the land.
He said that Jesus is the Owner of the Church and not a General Superintendent or any General Overseer.
“I do not work with the FRCN. Nobody has served me any notice. I am a trained lawyer and I try to be law-abiding, but that is not to say that any of the people mentioned has not been law-abiding.
“But whether we like it or not, one day, we`ll have to leave office. You can’t go on forever.
“This is the way I want you to see what has happened to Pastor Adeboye. God granted him the grace. For so many people, they will even collapse before they know when to leave.
“But to have someone succeed you in your lifetime and to continue when you have mentored that person, is a great achievement.
“Whether you are a General Superintendent or a General Overseer, Jesus is the Owner of the Church, not any of us and if He wants to do things to see Nigeria change, it must begin from the House of God; we must live by example.
“So, I think what Adeboye did was noble. There is nothing to fear in complying with the law, rules and regulations; we must not be seen as a lawless people,’’ he said.
Most Rev. Babatunde Elijah, Primate, Inri Evangelical Church, said that there was nowhere in the Bible that says that church leaders should retire.
“Making a law to control churches is a mirage. It is tantamount to fighting the Kingdom of God, and the Federal Government should do a rethink and review the law. The Holy Spirit does not retire.
“You know that some Pastors are living a flamboyant lifestyle; Government should face those churches that are entrepreneurial, commercialised churches and not the churches that are helping the less-privileged.
“Maybe those Pastors that are in government are the ones that they are talking about. Will I be reporting to them if I want to buy chairs in my church?
“The law from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) should be the one guiding the churches, not that from the FRCN. But it is just that CAN does not know what they are doing.
“Is it the FRCN that built the Churches? Are they the ones that contributed the money to build the churches?’’ he asked.
Prof. Ishaq Akintola, Director, Muslims Right Concern (MURIC), said: “I do not see the relevance of the law. I do not see why FRCN should seek to interfere in their leadership cadre.
“Government should allow the constitutions of either the mosques or the churches to guide their administration.
“I do not see why it is so important to the FRCN to start legislating over the leadership of churches or mosques. It is very wrong in my opinion,’’ he said.
The Bishop of the Diocese of Lagos Mainland, Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Akinpelu Johnson, however, said that the law was in line with the doctrine of the church.
“In the Anglican Church, the retirement age of anybody, be you a cleric or a worker is 70 years. I was surprised when I heard in the news on Sunday that the FRCN is regulating church leadership, but I think it is in line,’’ he added.