The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria has expressed joy over the judgment of the Kaduna State High Court, which ruled that the state government has no right to screen and issue licences to religious preachers in the state.
The Court, presided over by Justice Hajaratu Gwadah, on Wednesday, overruled the executive bill as unconstitutional.
She, however, maintained that the government has the right to regulate religious activities in the state.
It would be recalled that in 2016, the PFN approached the court to challenge the constitutionality of an executive bill to regulate preaching in the state.
The PFN had described the bill as an infringement on the fundamental human right of its members, asking the court for a declaration that setting up a committee for the screening and licencing of preachers is a violation of its rights.
While noting that the bill does not seek to abolish the rights of applicants, as fundamental human rights is not absolute, Justice Gwadah, however, emphasised that sections 6 and 9 of the bill, which seek to screen and licence preachers violate the constitutional rights of the applicant.
President of PFN, Rev. Felix Omobude, expressed this in a statement he issued on Saturday in Benin.
Omobude said the court’s judgement aligned with the position of the Fellowship, that the proposed law violates the constitutional rights of its members.
The statement said: “Our contention at the time Governor Nasir el-Rufai sent the executive Bill for a Law to substitute the Kaduna State Religious Preaching Law 1984 to the House of Assembly of Kaduna State was that the provisions of the bill is discriminatory and a violation of the fundamental rights of freedom of religion and association as guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution.
“The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) is relieved that the Court is in alignment with our position, affirming that Sections 6 and 9 of the bill which seeks to screen and license preachers, violates the constitutional rights of members of the Fellowship.
“We congratulate members of the PFN in Kaduna State. We urge all Pentecostals in the state and beyond to continue to live peacefully with everyone, remain law-abiding in all their activities while continuing to accommodate the views of others.”