By Sam Eyoboka
Presiding Bishop, Living Faith Church Worldwide, Bishop David Oyedepo, the tiny voice that let loose the avalanche of opposition to the Companies and Allied Matters Act, CAMA, again on Tuesday, said he does not care if anybody insults him or not, saying such people are wasting their time.
Oyedepo received lots of bashing on Monday for attacking the Federal Government and rejecting the Companies and Allied Matters Act, CAMA, that gives the supervising minister the enablement to remove the board of trustees of churches without recourse to the court.
The Winners Chapel founder had said: “In the document, they said the registrar-general can remove the trustees without recourse to the court. Don’t try it. This must be from somebody who woke up from the wrong side of the bed after dreaming. The person must have drafted that aspect in the bill as their custom is.
Oyedepo had said: “In the document, they said the registrar-general can remove the trustees without recourse to the court. Don’t try it. This must be from somebody who woke up from the wrong side of the bed after dreaming. The person must have drafted that aspect in the bill as their custom is.
“I am 51 years old in this thing (Christianity), don’t try it. I have been with Jesus for some time and I am sent as a prophet to nations. That a minister can remove the trustees and close the accounts of the church is.”
Many Nigerians bashed Oyedepo for his comment.
Also responding, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Reverend Alfred Adewale Martins yesterday said CAMA as an act of Parliament, is not in itself a bad piece of legislation as it will improve the ease of doing business in Nigeria.
According to him, whether the umbrella body of Christianity in the country, CAN or its affiliate, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN was consulted before the enactment of the Act into law, he was not aware, “but what is clear is that the Federal Government must tread with caution and do as not to be seen to be suffocating the religious bodies and non-governmental associations or societies.
“Removing a Board of Trustees and replacing it with government’s own is a serious violation of religious freedom,” the Catholic prelate stated through the Director of Social Communication, Rev. Father Anthony Godonu, noting that the Catholic Church has no problem about transparency and accountability.
Continuing, the Lagos Archbishop said: “We are well structured and always answerable to the Ecclesiastical Authorities including the head of the universal church, the Catholic Pontiff, the Pope.”
He maintained that the secular government in the country is very aware of the above claims.
CAMA: We are studying the matter, says Bishop Ore, Lagos PFN Chair
The Chairman of the Lagos Chapter of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, Bishop Sola Ore has said the National body of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria is understudying the Commercial and Allied Matters Acts and would take appropriate steps in days to come.
Ore maintained that CAMA is a national matter, “only the national PFN can comment on it authoritatively. The idea of going to court or not still has to be done by the national PFN and perhaps CAN.”
He expressed regret that the bill which had taken years of debate and a public hearing was eventually passed into law. “I think the challenge arose because our voice was not strong enough in presenting our own side during the public hearing. But this is not to blame anybody. We are certainly going to look at the option of challenging it in a law court,” Bishop Ore said.
He then advised that church leaders should be calm and go about their callings. “We are not called to strife. Our duty as church leaders is to ensure that the right things are done and that those we are leading do not see us as renegades. At the same time we are not going to allow the government to delve into the matter it knows little about.”
In his own position about CAMA he said, “it is easy to compare Nigeria with the UK when it suits the government. But the question is, is the government in Nigeria behaving the way the UK government is behaving? Nobody is saying the church is afraid of scrutiny. I am one of those who go against manipulation and financial recklessness in the church.
“So it is not about not wanting to open our books to the public. What we are saying is that spiritual matters sometimes are not what could be subjected to debate. Personally, I will lead a crusade against fraudulent pastors who take advantage of the people.
“But then we can’t allow undue meddlesomeness in the way the church is being run. That is the area we may have to challenge in the law court. Whatever control we are talking about, the church is well-positioned to control itself.”
Ore also called on Church leaders for cooperation. “It is said that when we call our people for meetings some of them don’t show up. As we speak some churches are not active in the PFN. It is when there is a crisis they realize they have a body that can speak for them. I recall during the time of the public hearing of the CAMA the response from church leaders was not too encouraging. But then, the situation can still be salvaged,” he said.
CAMA 2020: Our legal team is studying the matter
God’s Kingdom Society with headquarters in Warri, Delta State is of the opinion that the Government exists to make laws for the well being of society which includes the Churches. They should be partners in progress.
Responding to Vanguard’s query, The Public Relations Officer of GKS, Brother Benedict Hart said: “The fact is that our Legal Advisers have been asked to study the new law as it affects Churches in order to properly advise the Executive Board of the GKS on the issues involved.
“However, on the aspect of accountability, God’s Kingdom Society is not opposed to Churches being asked to submit audited statements of accounts or reports as periodic accounting is part of Christian culture.
The GKS has been submitting annual audited reports of her accounts even before this government came to power. Those who are leaders in the secular world should rule in the fear of God; moreso the leaders of the church. (II Samuel 23:2,3) The Parable of the Talents and of the Faithful and Wise Servant, when applied in this context, makes the point that God Almighty demands accounting from those He had entrusted His privileges.
“The Stewards in the work of God must, therefore, be faithful. (I Corinthians 4:2) While what is given to us would differ in proportion, we must use it responsibly. (Matthew 24:45-51: 25:14-30) Ultimately, everyone, (government officials and Church leaders) would give account to God. (Romans 14:12; II Corinthians 5:10)
“The assertion is made pointedly in Hebrews 13:27 that leaders of the Church give account to God. (Hebrews 13:17) Unfortunately, the activities of several charlatans and impostors who parade themselves as Church leaders have given responsible members of the public and the government cause to seek closer monitoring of how Churches are run.
Church leaders with a clear conscience should be willing to cooperate with lawful authorities as long as the intentions are genuine, no mischief is intended.
The way of the just is made plain. (Proverbs 15:19) The GKS Branches in the United Kingdom, USA, and Canada obey the extant laws and cooperate with the government to ensure that the Church lives up to the moral demands of the faith.
It would therefore not be unusual if similar requirements are put in place in Nigeria. Church leaders should be willing to work with the government as long as no arbitrariness, ulterior or shadowy motives are involved.
“Where there is misunderstanding or difference of opinions on some aspects of the CAMA law the Christian path is that of honest dialogue. The Bible says: ‘Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself and discover not a secret to another.’ (Proverbs 25:9),” GKS maintained.
CAMA: You can’t shut my bank account, get trustees for me – Primate Ayodele dares Buhari govt
The leader of INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, Oke-Afa, Ejigbo, Lagos, Primate Elijah Babatunde Ayodele, has reacted to the inclusion of religious centres under the Companies and Allied Matters Acts (CAMA) signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on August 7, 2020.
Ayodele explained that the government was trying to meddle into spiritual affairs which, according to him, is totally unacceptable, describing the act as a means of fighting the Church by the government.
In a statement on Monday, Ayodele said it is highly prohibited that anyone will appoint a trustee for his church.
“Nobody can shut down my account, no one can get a trustee for me. The government needs to be cautioned, they don’t have anything to do with the Church,” Ayodele said, adding that he would stop patronising banks in the country very soon.
Speaking further, the cleric blasted the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), and other Church leaders who have kept quiet probably because they get a stipend from the government.
“This is why I said they should scrap CAN, this government is testing God and I think it is high time God reacted,” he noted.