Human rights and constitutional lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has reacted to the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020 (CAMA) that was recently assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to Falana, he read the law and discovered that it was not only badly drafted, it was also illegal.
He explained that the law was illegal because it was a violation of the fundamental right to freedom of association guaranteed by section 40 of the Constitution.
He, however, said the law was not completely new, as registered NGOs were regulated in the past in line with the practice in all democratic societies.
He said the only addition which was objectionable was the power conferred on the commission to take over and manage NGOs on allegations of misconduct.
Falana said, “I have read the law. It was badly drafted. A government that set out to facilitate the ease of doing business could not have come up with a 604-page business law (CAMA 2020).”
“But it is not a completely new law. Registered NGOs were regulated in the past in line with the practice in all democratic societies.
“The only addition which is objectionable is the power conferred on the commission to take over and manage NGOs on allegations of misconduct.
“It is illegal because it is a violation of the fundamental right to freedom of association guaranteed by section 40 of the Constitution.”
Meanwhile, the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has also condemned the CAMA 2020.
In a statement on Thursday, by Adebayo Oladeji, Special Assistant on Media and Communications to CAN President, Rev Samson Ayokunle, CAN maintained that by implications, President Muhammadu Buhari has repealed the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990.
Oladeji urged the Buhari-led government to face the business of providing infrastructure for the people, focus on better health provision, food, education, adequate security employment, among others rather than be a busy body.
His words, “The government should not be a busy body in a matter that does not belong to it. The government does not have the technical expertise to run the church of God because of its spiritual nature.
“If the government is bent on imposing a law on us which the entire Church in Nigeria is against, then, they have declared war on Christianity and the agenda to destroy the Church which we have spoken against before now is coming to the open more clearly.
“If you cannot give us good amenities of life, we would not allow you to take away our liberty to worship our Maker.”
The Christian Association described the law as unacceptable, ungodly, reprehensible and an ill-wind that blows no one any good adding that it is a time bomb waiting to explode.
CAN called on President Buhari to urgently return the law to the National Assembly for immediate amendment.
“Nigeria should not be compared with any other nation when it comes to the relationship between religious institutions and the government. In Nigeria, people’s religions are tied to their humanity and of course, their life.
“How can the government sack the trustee of a church which it contributed no dime to establish? How can a secular and political minister be the final authority on the affairs and management of another institution which is not political? For example, how can a non-Christian head of Government Ministry be the one to determine the running of the church? It is an invitation to trouble that the government does not have the power to manage,” Oladeji said.
He called on all well-meaning Nigerians to ask the Federal Government to suspend the law because “we do not need it in this nation.”