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Freedom of Religion and Its Regulation in Nigeria: Analysis of Preaching Board Laws in Some States of Northern Nigeria

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The re-enactment of religious preaching board laws to regulate religious preaching in some states of Northern Nigeria generated debates between Government on the one hand and religious/human rights groups on the other. This research examines the Preaching Board Laws of Kano, Borno and Kaduna States in Northern Nigeria through the prism of the Nigerian Constitution and other democratic norms that relate to the right to freedom of religion in all democratic orders. It applies argumentative methodology to raise and analyse the following questions: how reasonable and justifiable are these religious preaching board laws in a democratic Nigeria?; what gave rise to the enactment of these laws in the states under study?; what judicial review mechanism would be employed to determine their reasonableness and justifiability in a democracy?; how do they accord with the freedom of religion clause in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria? The research establishes that some of the provisions of these laws are inconsistent with the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution and, by extension, international freedom of religion norms operating in all democratic orders. Second, Nigerian courts have not developed suitable balancing mechanisms for resolving conflicts between the right of the state to regulate and citizens’ right to freedom of religion otherwise called the two competing rights, in the light of which the research calls for the amendment of the laws to accord with the provisions of the Constitution and international freedom of religion norms acceptable in all democracies. The paper further recommends a harmonised proportionality test or judicial standard of review based on Nigeria’s religion-state relations and local experience for the use of courts, legislators and administrative agents coming face to face with this type of conflict in their official capacity.


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