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Confab: Committee on Religion determined to chart new course

25 April 2014, 07:48

Abuja - The Committee on Religion, one of the 20 standing committees at the ongoing National Conference, says it is determined to come up with recommendations that will reposition religion in the country.

The Co-Chairman of the committee, Bishop Felix Ajakaiye, made this known in an interview with the media in Abuja.

Ajakaiye, who is the Catholic Bishop of Ekiti Diocese, said the committee had commenced deliberations on some of the contentious religious issues in the country over the years.

“We are discussing state and religion. That is what should be the relationship between the state and religion.”

“If it is in the constitution that states should not adopt any religion and a Muslim or a Christian, that is a governor or president or person should not promote his or her religion at the expense of other religions.”

According to the constitution, no religion should be made official religion of the state, so we are discussing that too.

The Bishop said the committee would also deliberate extensively on state and public funding of pilgrimages, ethics and teaching of religion in schools, as well as how religiosity could be translated into spirituality.

Speaking on two weeks deadline given to committees to come up with recommendations, the Bishop said his committee was determined to come up with a good report irrespective of the time constraint.

He, however, called for courage on the part of government and relevant stakeholders to implement recommendations that would emanate from the conference.

“We are great in making laws, but we are greater in not implementing these laws. So, there must be the moral courage and the political will to implement. ”

Another Co-Chairman of the committee, Nuruddeen Lemu, said, "I can assure you that we will come up with conclusions that are the best synergy of our collective wisdom,” he said.

Lemu said that members were all given the opportunity to air their views about things they were frustrated about and to extensively discuss them.

He also said that the committee had an addition of about six topics under the main topics given by the conference secretariat for deliberation.

“What we now have are the sub topics under the main topics we were given, so we have about six or seven sub topics.”

“Under the topic of state and religion, we will discuss the role of states Vis a Vis relationship with religious institutions.”
“Some of the sub topics include the issue of religious court. Should we have religious courts or customary courts?”

“Should we have Episcopal or ecclesiastical courts and will that be fair for all, will everybody want it and for those who don’t want it, what are their options.”

According to him, who will handle certain issues, particularly if they have relationship with religion like issues of discrimination?

“How do we protect minorities in a democracy, what type of policies can we put in place that can checkmate abuses of power and many other issues,” he said.

-    NAN

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