by Stanley Azuakola
Rules are rules in Malaysia, and so a 38-year old Nigerian man who preached as a pastor after entering the country using a student pass in 2010 was detained yesterday at noon, so says the Maklaysian Federal Territory Immigration Department.
He was detained following a tip-off from the public after giving a sermon to a congregation at Taman Connaught in Cheras, Malaysia.
The 38-year-old is a language student at a private college in Cheras.
The Immigration assistant director of enforcement James Musa Singa said that initial investigations showed that the Nigerian who is a language student at a private college in Cheras, had been involved in religious activities since 2011.
“Our investigations show that he has been renting the first floor unit at a three-storey shoplot in Taman Connaught here for the past two years and had converted it into a worship place for the Nigerian community and students here.”
He said the worship place was illegal as it operated without a licence.
“We are not against religion. The arrest and the checks were conducted because the place was not registered and the person who conducted the sermons was only a student.”
According to Singa, the 19 immigrations enforcement personnel, waited for the morning sermon to end before moving in to conduct checks on the pastor and his congregation. In all, 30 people present were screened, and seven were detained including the Nigerian student.
While the pastor was detained for misusing his student pass, the other six, who were also Nigerians, were detained for failing to produce valid travel documents.
“The student might get his student visa cancelled and he may be deported if he is found guilty of misusing his visa,” said Singa.
He said foreigners who wanted to conduct religious talks or get involved in any religious activities had to get approval from the Home Ministry.
They also need to apply for a special pass from the Immigration Department, he added.
“Once their application is approved, the Immigration Department will then issue a special pass, called a professional pass, which allows them to give talks or sermons.”