The Application of CAMA in Churches: My Humble Submission
Peter Okpeh (Ph.D)
It is now common knowledge that the Buhari-led Administration has finally signed into law the application of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, (CAMA). in religious and charity organisations, of which the Church is a prominent actor. As it applies to churches, the law provides, among others, that the government can, through the Corporate Affairs Commission, “suspend the trustees of the association (the church), and appoint an interim manager or managers to coordinate its affairs where it reasonably believes that there has been any misconduct or mismanagement, or where the affairs of the association (the church) are being run fraudulently, or where it is necessary or desirable for the purpose of public interest ” (emphasis mine).In carrying out the responsibility, the law mandates its operators to also freeze the account of a church, whenever it deems it fit.
The outright rejection of this law on Sunday by Bishop David Oyedepo of the Winners Chapel has triggered an upsurge of critical reactions from a cross-section of the Nigerian Christian Community. The social media especially has been awash with comments bothering on Bishop Oyedepo’s courage and outspokenness vis-a-vis the “silence” of the other Pentecostal fathers. Others argued that the Church is waking up too late as the controversial act is already a law. Many others, including Yours sincerely, opined that no matter how hard they try, the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church! While these and many other submissions are good, I believe, (although I am not a lawyer), that a proper, “common sense” evaluation of this law within the context of the fundamental principles underpinning the existence of the Church as the Body of Christ on earth will reveal why this law, in all its intents and purposes, is an Anti-Christ move which should be resisted not only pr prayerfully, but also by all possible legal means available to us as legitimate citizens of this country.
1. First, at the risk of being branded fanatical, I submit that the Church is the sole target of this law. The umbrella term” religious and charitable organisations” as contained in the law is only a ploy to generalise what is obviously a targeted witch hunt! Ask me why, and I’ll ask you to find out which of “the religious and charitable organisations” is as active in the economy as the Church!
2. The Church is a spiritual entity that should be managed with the principles of the Holy Bible which we Christians believe to be infallible and uneditable. One of such principles is the need for whoever manages the affairs of the Church to be born again. No human legislation on earth can change this! For the government to now be the one to appoint whoever it deems fit to manage the affairs of a church is a flagrant disregard to the Bible, and constitutes “strange fire”!
3. Then comes the issue of running the affairs of the Church against ” purpose of public interest” as a result of which the government may freeze the account of a church. First, what is “public interest here”? Second, does the Church exist to serve a “public interest ” or the interest of Christ, her Bridegroom? This, again, is not in tandem with the spiritual philosophy of the Church.
4. A critic remarked yesterday about the application of same law in other climes. Well, I don’t know about that, especially with regards to the extent of this application in those climes. However, anyone familiar with the damage done to this country by religious conflict and corruption will agree that Nigeria is very much unlike these “other climes.”
5. Finally on this, what really is government’s headache with the internal management of churches when there are many government-owned organisations having leadership crises? What’s government business with the use or misuse of church money, with the humongous corruption stinking to the heavens in all the arms of government, including agencies meant to fight the plague? Government will be more honest if it leaves the Church alone, and faces more serious ills bedevilling the country at present.
Now , what the Church Can Do…
1. Let us set aside denominational and doctrinal sentiments for once and for this purpose, to resist this move and similar moves with one voice! Oyedepo is not the only one with a stake in this.
2. Unceasing prayers should be offered in all churches on every worship day against this move and similar moves to strangulate the Church in Nigeria.
3. CAN should instantly summon a meeting of all the key players among our spiritual fathers in the faith. They should do a strongly worded letter to the government articulating its opposition to the law, and a warning against its implications
4. Where the above fails, CAN should proceed to court to challenge the law as it contravenes our fundamental right to practice our religion within the confines of our beliefs.
5. The rest of us should aggressively invade the social media in a campaign against the law. This should be done in the most humane and civilised ways, devoid of rancour, insult, and hate.
I believe as we do these, the Lord will send us deliverance from Zion!