The Federal Government has assured religious bodies in the country that the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020 (CAMA) does not target churches, mosques and other religious bodies, as had been wrongly portrayed.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang, gave the assurances on Tuesday during an interaction with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), in Abuja.
The meeting, which was organised for the purposes of giving enlightenment to the Christian body over the contentious provisions of the CAMA, also saw the Presidential aid swearing to an oath to assure the church in Nigeria that he had come to them with the whole truth about the new law.
He lamented that some politicians, especially those from the opposition, had wrongly characterised the intents and purposes of the Act, giving it an anti-religious law.
He said the misconceptions that had trailed the Act had found their way in through deliberate misinformation, explaining also that though some had intended to blackmail President Muhmmadu Buhari with it, he was not the sponsor and had at previous occasions withheld accent to it when he was not convinced it was good enough for Nigeria.
“Misconceptions have enveloped this ACT with deliberate misinformation and falsehood by persons who may not have fully and in-fact personally read and digested the provision of the ACT. We consider it appropriate and responsible to appear before you and other fora to make these explanations.
“First, the bill as it then was, was not an executive bill transmitted by President Buhari to the legislature but initiated by a Senator and member of the House in the respective chambers, at the behest of the Corporate Affairs Commission and support of the Ministry of Trade and Investment. It was therefore not an executive bill, but upon passage was transmitted to Mr. President for assent.
“Secondly, upon receipt of same for assent, Mr. President in accordance with extant best practice escalated the measure to appropriate Ministries, Departments and Agencies who made different inputs some of which lead to Mr. President declining assent twice to the bill in the entire tenure or life of the 8th Assembly.
“Thirdly, as the 9th Assembly inaugurated, the bill was again re-introduced by Senators and Honourable members and all the observation made on the 8th Assembly bill incorporated and addressed, without any amendment or insertion and in whole passed by the two chambers and being without differences was transmitted to Mr. President for assent.
“It is pertinent to state that prior to this ACT, Incorporated Trustees or Law of Trust was regulated by the COMPANIES AND ALLIED MATTER ACT,1990, now repealed by the 2020 CAMA. This shows that trusteeship as now complained of was regulated by an ACT which has been in existence for 30 years and the practice and complaint arising therefrom can only reasonably generate improvement, amendment and incorporation of International best practice as in other nation states as well as guidance from judgement of court on matters relating thereto in the 2020 CAMA subject of this brief.
“We want to declare as a fact, that the Act does not target churches or religious bodies as wrongly assumed. For illustration of this I present a tabular form of the provisions of the 1990 ACT which came into force on January, 2nd 1990, which after more than 30 years of operation has now been repealed and replaced by CAMA 2020 hereunder are the comparative provisions in the two enactments to show particularly that the 2020 ACT assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari has not introduced any matter oppressive to the Christian Community or any religion nor any matter discriminatory against any class of persons in Nigeria”, he said.