Recently I have been seeing lot of outburst and anger among certain Pentecostal leaders regarding the amended Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) recently assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari. Now, The bill which was signed into law by the president on August 7, 2020, I learnt, is expected to engender corporate legal innovations geared toward enhancing ease of doing business in the country. I’m not a lawyer but having carefully gone through the lines of this bill I think it’s a welcome development. Contrarily to the pulpitarial claims from some of this Mega Pentecostal preachers, the Nigerian Government is not trying to take control of the church or waging a war on the Church by virtue of this amended bill, far from it. the government is only interested in regulating financial misconduct Among NGO’s. Nigeria is a democratic country and one fundamental rights enshrined in our constitution is freedom of worship, therefore anyone saying the government is trying to Islamize Nigeria or take control of the church is simply spreading conspiracy theory which has never done Nigeria any Good but rather divide us the more and reduce citizen trust on her government.
This amended CAMA Act, wields power to suspend the trustees of not for profit organizations( Including Churches, and Mosques) and appoint an interim manager or trustees to coordinate its Financial activities where it reasonably believes that there had been any financial misconduct, embezzlements or misappropriation of funds, after proper investigation. Previously, the law was silent as to the appointment of trustees of a non-profit making company, but currently, Section 839 of the new act, specifically states that the CAC has the power to appoint an interim chairman over such bodies. The major bone of contention is that people think the CAC will just go ahead and unilaterally appoint someone because they probably discovered something. No. Someone within the organization must have complained that something wrong is going on. When this happens, they will now set up a panel to investigate. It is after, that a decision will now be taken to that respect. “But they don’t have the power to unilaterally appoint a board chairman over a non-profit organization. There are procedures under the said law, must be taken before any conclusion is made. and anyone who feels unjustly treated can go to the court and plead his case.
Folks, the reviewed CAMA is a welcome development and also in line with global best practices. The spirit behind its review may be with good intention and purpose. The whole idea is about tightening the loose ends in most of the corporate governance practices of several entities that flouts the code of ethics and corporate governance in their organizations. I think the amended Act is highly revolutionary. It has brought some modicum of decency to the art of doing business; even though there is still room for improvement, because Nigeria is supposed to be a federation and certain aspects of the act make me uncomfortable. Some of these things should be left for the state to handle, a situation where you need to go to Abuja to get the signature of the registrar general for a company is unfederal and I’m not comfortable with that.
I have not seen any Nigerian Catholic Cardinals/ Bishops, Anglican Primate/Bishops or leaders of Assembly Of God Churches and other orthodox Churches kick against this amended bill. Why is this anger and fight coming from the corners of some heavy weight Pentecostal Churches? This is the problem with one man business because there is no oversight of the headman. I have head Some of the Pentecostal Preachers say that the government does not have the power to remove their trustees. Let them go to court. INEC is a regulatory body that regulates political parties, CBN is a regulatory body over banks. Can CBN remove bank directors? Yes. Can they deregister banks? Yes; because they are a regulatory body. Regulatory body is a powerful phrase. So, I think the churches refuting this are not thinking through, ey are being emotional and illogical. They should have the power to deregister or remove trustees. However, what we should now be discussing are the provisions that should make us get to that point, but to say the government does not have the power to deregister is, in my opinion, the height of illiteracy, whoever says that is not as educated as you probably think the person is.
The law is not only for the church, it also applies to mosques and NGOs, so I think we should look at it from different perspectives before we start throwing tantrums and jumping up and down. They are not even deregistering churches, they are only saying they will remove trustees that are culpable to fraud. The claim of the pastors kicking against these bill is these; 1, That Government is fighting the church or going to take over their church. 2, Some say the church is under the authority and control of God and that the church does not answer to the government but to God. Whoever saying this absolutely is ignorant. The church cannot exist outside a society. If you say the church is under God’s authority, why did you go to register at CAC(Corporates Affairs commission)? Why did they buy land from government and collect Certificate of Occupancy? Is it God that sold the land of that church to them? Why do they go to banks to open account, why can’t they keep the money inside Your churches? Yes, we answer to God, But we have government for a reason.
When people just want to misbehave, they go to the pulpit and begin to make statement as if they are above the law. They just want to be reckless and lawless. Nigerians like being lawless. What most of these Pentecostal leaders are saying here, they can’t try it abroad. Most of these pastors cannot do what they’re doing in Nigeria in UK OR USA where they have branches. A few years ago, the pastor of one of the biggest churches in England was removed as a trustee of his church and the charity commission appointed people to manage the finances of that church for 3-5 years. This is a Nigerian church. Now, they will come to Nigeria and be behaving how they like. It’s not good. They shouldn’t turn Nigeria to a Banana Republic. We want to get better as a country. We want to be like better governed countries all over the world, not a banana republic.
In summary, I think the various stakeholders should come together and if there is certain clause in the law that needs to be change then they should but, if there is not, the law is law. if you are registered under CAC, you must abide by the regulations set forth by CAC PERIOD. If you don’t want to obey the regulatory laws of the land when it comes to the use of public money, then go build your own country or go open your church in Heaven. Great Igwe.