We’ll Enforce Existing Preaching Law In Plateau – Gov. Lalong

SIMON LALONGGovernor Simon Lalong of Plateau State has indicated his administration’s readiness to enforce existing laws regulating religious preaching in the state to guard against hate speech and crisis.
“Here, we are keeping to the old law regulating religious activities in the state”, the governor said, weekend, during a chat with journalists as part of activities to mark his first year in office.
“Whether you like it or not, we must implement some of the rules”, Mr. Lalong said in response to the question whether the state will introduce legislations to regulate religious preaching.
Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, has come under fire recently over the religious preaching bill he sent to the state House of Assembly to regulate public preaching in the highly volatile state.
The bill, titled “A Bill for a Law to Substitute the Kaduna State Religious Preaching Law, 1984”, among others, seeks to make it an offence for any person to preach without a license; play a religious cassette or use a loud speaker for religious purposes after 8pm in public places; use a loud speaker for religious purposes other than inside a mosque or church and the surrounding area outside the stipulated prayer times; abuse religious books; incite disturbances of the public peace; abuse or use any derogatory term in describing any religion; or carry weapons of any description, whether concealed or not, in places of worship or to any other place with a view to causing religious disturbance.
However, Lalong said Plateau will not initiate a bill for such a law, even though he acknowledged the existence of a law that regulates public preaching by religious organisations in the state.
He said Plateau will not hold back from enforcing the law.
“Because there was no regulation, we had this case of Boko Haram from the grassroots, no regulations. It metamorphosed into what we are going through now”, Lalong said.
The Governor recalled that in his time as Speaker of the Plateau House of Assembly, the legislature had responded to pressures from concerned persons to initiate and pass a law in that regard.
Lalong, who defended El-Rufai for introducing the bill to replace the religious preaching law in Kaduna, challenged journalists and indeed Nigerians, to study it for the sake of understanding the action of the Kaduna governor.
“Have you looked at the Law?” he asked the journalists. “It is still a reflection of the laws that we have…We have them in the law in Plateau State. It is to regulate”.
While pointing out that Plateau has no new bill to initiate, the governor insisted that it was expedient to consider an enforcement of the old law to stave off possible crises as the state had a nasty experience in 2001 over unregulated preaching.
“So that you don’t sit overnight in your house and tomorrow you announce that ‘yes, I saw a vision, now I am a preacher; I am going to form a church.’ With that kind of conduct, tomorrow you are forming a church and we don’t know where you are going to take people, and what you are saying there, we don’t know”, he said.

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