Tuesday, 29 April 2014
Accounts of Churches and Mosques Should Be Audited Annually – CONFAB Delegate Proposes
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Dr Jonathan Obaje, a delegate representing Diaspora-Asian in the ongoing national conference and member of the Committee on Religion, has advocated for the annual auditing of churches’, mosques’, and temples’ accounts.
According to him, religion has to be “protected from being hijacked by criminals who hide under religion to commit crimes against gullible innocent citizens.” Hence, he's proposing that the accounts
and finances of all registered religious organizations, churches, mosques or temples must be audited annually by special religion account auditors. And then that the head of the auditors to these registered religious groups shall be from a different religion.
In a position paper submitted to the committee and circulated to newsmen, Dr. Obaje postulates that the following should therefore be made Religion Crimes punishable by law:
1. Mounting of loud speakers on churches, mosques and temples which disturb personal and public peace of other citizens should be prohibited and punishable by law.
2. Religious buildings located in any community with population density of more than 1,000 persons per square kilometre should be sound-proof such that nobody outside the building can hear any sound from inside the building.
3. The broadcast of religion programs on public media should be prohibited. Provisions should be made for licensing of exclusive Religious channels.
4. Religious prayers at official and public functions should be prohibited. Only the National pledge can be recited at official and public functions. Public functions, in this case, is any gathering of a group of persons not for religious activities and in which there is one or more persons who may not subscribe to the religion in which the prayer is being conducted.
5. Obstructions to traffic by any religious group should be prohibited by law. This shall include, but not limited to, setting up road block, parking of vehicles on roads near religious buildings, centres, or activities. This should attract heavy fines or jail terms for key officials.
6. Religious organizations, groups, centres, churches, mosques or temples must keep proper register of auditable membership. Any religious organization, group, centre, church, mosque or temple with membership of 100 persons and above should be properly registered with CAC within 12 months of attaining membership of 100 persons.
7. The accounts and finances of all registered religious organizations, groups, centres, churches, mosques or temples must be audited annually by a special religion account auditors. The head of the auditors to any registered religious organization, group, centre, church, mosque or temple shall be from a different religion.
8. All funds or monies donated or accrued must be properly declared and lodged into the bank account of the religious entity within a week of receiving such monies or funds. Misused of funds donated or accrued to religious organizations, groups, centres, churches, mosques or temples should be made a serious crime. Salaries and allowances of staff of registered religious organizations, groups, centres, churches, mosques or temples should be decided by all registered members and made public.
9. Government sponsorship of religion activities should be prohibited. Nigerian government and its agents should withdraw from all national and international religious organizations forthwith.
10. No religious centre, church, mosque or temples shall be located on the premises of a government or public institution. Individual or group of individuals shall however be allowed to perform their private religious rights within the premises of a government or public institution to the extent that the rights of other citizens are not compromised, trampled or violated.
11. Speeches, sermons, preaching and teachings which make derogatory statement about other religions should be prohibited and punishable by law. Religious organizations, groups, centres, churches, mosques or temples should be allowed earn their relevance and respect by making positive contributions to the community and society and not by verbal condemnation of other religions.
He concludes by noting that no multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious society or nation like Nigeria has ever risen to greatness without a legal framework to protect citizens' rights to religion and the laws to punish misuse of religion. The diaspora representative posits that Nigeria cannot aspire to greatness without protecting its moral values from religious criminals.