Nigeria’s Christian Leaders to File “fresh suit” against Law Seeking to Control Churches

Logo of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)/ Credit: Courtesy Photo

Representatives of Christian leaders in Nigeria are planning to sue the government afresh over the controversial Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020 that seeks to allow State authorities to control church operations.

Speaking to journalists Sunday, December 5, the General Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Joseph Daramola, said the organization’s lawyers are currently preparing to institute a fresh suit using the proper name of the Plaintiff (CAN) as it is on the Certificate of Incorporation.

Last week, the Federal High Court in Abuja dismissed the suit, which CAN had filed in March over what the judge, Inyang Ekwo, described as failure of the plaintiff to comply with the law in the name used to file the originating summons.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria, CAN had filed an application asking to amend the originating summons and accompanying documents from Incorporated to Registered, such that its name would read “Registered Trustees of Christian Association of Nigeria”, as is indicated on its certificate of incorporation.  

Nigeria’s Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), one of the defendants, opposed the position of CAN, saying, “The Incorporated Trustees of the Christian Association of Nigeria” is not recognized under CAMA and that “the originating process of the plaintiff is incurably defective and cannot be cured by an amendment.”


In the press conference of December 5, the General Secretary of CAN said the religious leaders in the West African nation would not appeal the High Court’s decision because “it would further delay the case.”

“What happened in the court was just a temporary setback and by the grace of God; we have overcome it," the official of the Christian entity that includes representatives of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) said.

He added, "Our prayers are for the unborn generations and nothing will discourage us from pursuing this case to the logical conclusion.”   

In August last year, representatives of Christian leaders in Nigeria termed CAMA Law as “unacceptable, ungodly, reprehensible and an ill-wind that blows no one any good."

They added that the Law, which was assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari on 7 August 2020 "is a time bomb waiting to explode.”

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In a statement issued 20 August 2020, CAN leadership urged President Buhari to return the law that allows for the establishment of a Commission to regulate, coordinate and monitor non-governmental organizations, to Parliament for amendment.

“The satanic section of the controversial and ungodly law is Section 839 (1) & (2) which empowers the Commission to suspend trustees of an association (in this case, the church) and appoint the interim managers to manage the affairs of the association for some given reasons,” CAN leadership stated. 

The representatives of Christian leaders in Nigeria posed, “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?” 

The Christian leaders said the attempt to control churches is “an invitation to trouble that the government does not have power to manage” and advised the political leadership in Nigeria to “face the business of providing infrastructure for the people.”

They asked the Buhari-led government "not to be a busybody 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.”


“The Church cannot be controlled by the government because of its spiritual responsibilities and obligations,” CAN officials said, and added, “This is why we are calling on the Federal government to stop the implementation of the obnoxious and ungodly law until the religious institutions are exempted from it.”

A team of over 18 lawyers among them, Fr. Joseph Ilorah, a Catholic Priest, are representing CAN members in the case.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.