Bishop Oyedepo’s rejection of CAMA order has led to another power tussle

Bishop Oyedepo

Just a few weeks ago, it was Bishop Oyedepo clashing with the federal government over the directives on social gatherings in controlling the spread of the coronavirus – slamming the government for allowing markets to stay partially open while upholding the ban of public gatherings on churches.

Today, he is in the news again following the new policy by the government which designates the regulation on how churches should run.

On the 7th of August, the president signed a law that prompts religious bodies and charity organizations to be strictly regulated by the registrar-general of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and a supervising minister – The Company and Allied Matters Acts (CAMA). The CAMA provides that the commission may by order, suspend the trustees of an association or a religious body and appoint an interim manager or managers to coordinate its affairs without recourse to the court.

The authority of the CAMA is also tied to where it reasonably believes that there has been any misconduct or mismanagement, or where the affairs of the association are being run fraudulently or where it is necessary or desirable for the purpose of public interest. However, the CAMA not only affects the church but NGOs as well.

Oyedepo, reacting to this news in his Sunday service sermon, slammed the government as he debates that the government is yet to fully coordinate themselves in the fight of corruption that exists in Nigeria. Oyedepo went further to say that such laws are borne out of jealousy on the progress of the church. For the bishop, the rationality of the government in subjecting religious organizations to laws that governs civil establishments is questionable as he describes the church as ‘God’s heritage on earth’.

Oyedepo’s deposition on the law is quite understandable as religious bodies in Nigeria are not originally registered as business enterprises. According to the law, the authority of CAMA comes into play when there is perceived misconduct or mismanagement and even on matters of public interest which is very applicable to business enterprises. On social media, the news has created a debate on the authority of the government in establishing policies that oversee the affairs of churches in Nigeria.

While many supported the new law, a few others stood in solidarity with Oyedepo sharing his ideas and stand against the law. On one side, many argued that with all the money being generated in most churches, there is close to no contribution of churches in the betterment of Nigeria. For these ones, they hold the inclination that most churches are not just places of worship, but businesses for whoever is in charge – hence, the CAMA is apt for the power it holds to regulate church affairs.

On the other side, some Nigerians debated that churches have had a level of contribution for Nigerians, served as a safe haven for the downtrodden, the less privileged, and those in distress, they debated that churches have aided Nigerians in many ways that the government has not seen before. In May, the Catholic Church (Catholic Mission) donated all its 425 hospitals and clinics in Nigeria to the government as isolation centers to help in the fight against COVID-19. This does not go without Oyedepo’s own contribution to the Lagos and Ogun state government during the lockdown.

However, Oyedepo is not the only one in this fight against the CAMA, leader of the INRI Evangelical spiritual church, Primate Ayodele has also kicked against the inclusion of religious centers under the CAMA law. Ayodele explained that the government is trying to meddle into spiritual affairs which, according to him, is totally unacceptable. He described the act as a means of fighting the church by the government.

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