So Major 1 is in the news again. The government chose to ban him from the country and now they have de-registered the church he founded.
I have always insisted that government hates fire churches. They hate foreign prophets, and they hate Bushiri more.
I do not have to take you back to that time when they decided to dictate the minimum number of people required to form a church. As if the mainline churches, to which most of the power brokers belong, were always headed by locals.
I agree that Bushiri is a controversial figure. Some of his so called miracles are, to me, absolute nonsense.
But then that my personal opinion. Mine, I must repeat. Often, we are so self-assured of the correctness of our opinions that we forget that amongst Bushiri’s followers, there are people more enlightened and endowed with better faculties for critical thinking that we are.
It is arrogant to promote ourselves as absolute arbiters of what is right and wrong and to suggest that our biased, prejudiced and imperfect opinions must be used to protect them from self-destruction.
ECG followers are fully consenting adults. They are not imbeciles. If Bushiri has done anything wrong, he should be held to account in whatever lawful way may be possible. But please, let his members enjoy their conscientious freedoms to assemble, to follow their leader and to choose their preferred beliefs. It is none of government’s business.
I am mindful that the pretext given, is noncompliance. Whether Bushiri’s church complied with the Registrar’s demands or not I do not know. If what is carried in the Gazette is anything to go by, the church may not have complied. But then, I do not know their reasons. So I will not judge on that fact. That is, in fact, not necessary as my argument goes beyond simple considerations of compliance.
What worries me is the drastic measure visited upon the touted non-compliance, namely deregistration. It begs the question whether there weren’t less extreme measures that could have been invoked to ensure compliance or to hold the church to account.
To have conscientious freedoms affecting thousands of citizens all taken away in the name of un-submitted financial reports of a statutorily non-profit making entity when there are other ways of dealing with the situation is horrendous.
Why, one should ask, did the Registrar choose to sanction the church and not its leadership? What does government make of victimising ECG members for their leaders’ indiscretions.
Why was it necessary to adopt a tight-lipped, legalistic approach that had the consequence of sounding the death knell on the freedom of assembly of so many people. I have heard many say that freedom of assembly must be enjoyed
True. But it must be remembered, likewise, that the law must be enforced with sensitivity to freedoms of conscience and assembly. The law is not an end in itself. Its ends must be just and that is why functionaries are vested with discretionary power. Such power must be exercised judiciously.
Freedom of assembly and of conscience are likewise, the law. It cannot be right to use the law to ride roughshod over civil liberties.
The law should be used to protect rights not to undermine them. It would be different if ECG abused conscientious freedoms for unlawful ends. We haven’t heard of anything of the sort, except of course, on Facebook.
When punishment is gravely disproportionate to the offence, and when it is administered indiscriminately without regard to both considerations of substantive and comparative justice, malice can safely be inferred.
Why, of the thousands of perennially errant churches, did government target the ECG for this treatment. There is substantive, and there is comparative justice. It is correct for government to take some measure of action to ensure compliance with regulations but punitive action that is disproportionate is unjust regardless of the wrong.
Moreover, if the same treatment is not meted to other societies like circumstanced, then there is no comparative justice.
It must, again, be borne in mind that ECG is a juristic entity. It is not property of its supposedly errant leaders. Why, for example, were the leaders not simply charged with disobedience of written laws. There is legal provision for that. Why wasn’t the church simply charged?
That is why I do not think the de-registration was in good faith. It was malicious. The inquisition into its accounts was in bad faith. It was simply a pretext to find fault and furnish an excuse for de-registration.
Get me right. I do not say that government is wrong to enquire into church’s accounts. I am merely challenging government’s motives. It is foolhardy for the hate and prejudice filled section of society to celebrate the ECG’s fall. We must all be afraid. Very afraid. What goes around comes around.
Government is getting too nosey in ecclesiastical matters. We are being taken back to medieval religious intolerance where dominant sections of the populace would consider themselves arbiters of sects.
It is improper to dictate people’s beliefs by prescription or restriction of their choices. Closing ECG is a heavy handed substantively and comparatively unfair act of unbridled prejudice. It must be condemned unreservedly as a shameful act of religious bigotry and intolerance. Stop the prejudice. Re-register ECG!