From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has sued the federal government to court over the recently gazetted Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020 (CAMA).
The move, apparently, was to register the Association’s discontent over some provisions of the Act which CAN says it was uncomfortable with.
CAN General Secretary Joseph Daramola said in a statement that the leadership of the Association resolved to approach the court after all attempts to convince the federal government not to intervene or interfere with the management of the Church directly or indirectly failed.
Daramola said the suit between the Incorporated Trustees of CAN and Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment was filed before the Federal High Court, Abuja, and the case was mentioned on Monday.
Plaintiff counsel was led by Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN. Others in the legal team include Prof J Amupitan, SAN; Wale Adesokan, SAN; Isaac Okpanachi, Esq; Comfort Otera Chigbue, Esq; Godswill Iyoke, Esq; Dr Cyril Obika, Esq.
Others are Geraldine Mbah, Esq; Francis Oronsaye, Esq; Oluniyi Adediji, Esq; Charles Ndukwe, Esq; Emmanuel Ekong, Esq; and Darlington Onyekwere, Esq; Madu Joe-Kyari Gadzama, Esq; Lama Joe-Kyari Gadzama, Esq; Rev Fr. Joseph Ilorah, Esq; Jerry Onbugadu Musa, Esq; Amazing Ikpala, Esq; and a host of other legal luminaries.
At the mentioned of the case at the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, CAN leaders, notably, the General Secretary, Joseph Bade Daramola, Esq; Elder Kunle Fagbemi, Senator Philip Gyunka, Elder Tunde Adegbesan, Rev Dr Testimony Onifade, the Director, Legal and Public Affairs, Comfort Otera Chigbue, Esq; and Senator Jonathan Zwingina, were conspicuously present.
CAN, last year, contested some sections of CAMA which empowered the CAC to suspend church trustees and appoint interim managers who could be non-Christian. CAN described the Act as poorly drafted and illegal, indicating sloppiness, illogicality and malice.
Many other interested parties also vowed to challenge the CAMA Act 2020, on the grounds that it’s reprehensible and illegal for the CAC to be both the prosecutor and the judge.
Under the new CAMA Act, CAC can replace church trustees if they ‘reasonably’ believe there has been mismanagement, misconduct or fraud to protect its property in the public interest. Under CAMA 2020, a non-Christian may be appointed interim manager of a Church to replace Christian church members, and there is no tenure limit for the appointed interim management.
CAN said the powers given to the Director-General of CAC or his supervising minister to replace the Board of Trustees of a church, dissolve the leadership and appoint any one of their choices to manage the church “in the public interest” without any provision that such appointees must be church members or at least Christians is a recipe for disaster.