LIVING Faith Church Worldwide founder Bishop David Oyedepo has kicked against attempts by the Nigerian government to regulate religious houses saying the Company and Allied Matters Act (Cama) was promulgated out of jealousy.
Nigerian evangelical churches are among the wealthiest in the world, with Bishop Oyedepo himself valued by Forbes to be worth $150m but they are not regulated. These mega churches amass vast sums by levying their members a tenth of their earnings but do not pay tax and in a bid to tap into their huge reserves, the government has introduced Cama.
President Muhammadu Buhari signed Cama into law on August 7, under which religious bodies and charity organisations will be strictly regulated by the registrar-general of Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and a supervising minister. Cama also provides that the commission may by order, suspend the trustees of an association or a religious body and appoint an interim manager or managers to coordinate its affairs if necessary.
This new law stipulates that this can happen where the CAC reasonably believes that there has been any misconduct or mismanagement, or where the affairs of the association are being run fraudulently or where it is necessary or desirable for the purpose of public interest. While addressing members of his congregation yesterday, Bishop Oyedepo said such laws were borne of out the government’s jealousy about the prosperity recorded by the church.
Bishop Oyedepo said: “The church is God’s heritage on earth. Molest the wife of somebody and you will see the anger of that person. You know how a strong man is when you tamper with his wife. The church is the body of Christ, so we are under obligation to give warnings to wicked rulers so we could be free from their blood.
“The church works on the pattern delivered by God not the pattern of man. Government has no power to appoint people over churches. This is a secular nation but the church is the greatest asset of God in this country. Please be warned, judgement is coming.
“The Lord says I have been still but now I will arise. Anybody that is in this deal is taking poison. This will never work. I am waiting for a day when anybody will appoint a trustee over this church.
“It is only in Africa that people who are over 80 years still run around to become president. I know that it is the prosperity of the church that is making them jealous but I am going to live to see an army of many winners soar greater. In this church shall emerge one of the largest concentration of giants on earth.”