Press Bill: We Are Suspending The Process For More Consultation – Sponsor

 

Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Information National Orientation Ethics and Values, Segun Odebunmi, who is also the sponsor of the Nigeria Press Council (NPC) and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Amendment Bill, has said that the House has agreed to suspend the bill.

Odebunmi who was a guest on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily on Tuesday explained that the suspension is to allow for proper consultations over the bill.

“We have been on this process for a while and right now, we have suspended it for more consultation to happen on it,” he said.

The lawmaker had earlier faulted claims that the bill was targeted at gagging the media.

He rather maintained that it is aimed at removing identified hindrances to optimum performance.

The suspension comes after the bill was widely criticised by Nigerians, mostly media operators who believe it is aimed at stifling its operations.

Read Also: ‘Information Blackout’: Nigeria Newspapers Campaign Against Media Bills

‘It’s about society’s rights’

Several newspapers in Nigeria on Monday published an advertorial against media regulation bills being considered at the National Assembly.

The advertorial, which appeared on the front pages of dailies such as Punch, Vanguard, The Nation, ThisDay, Guardian, Daily Sun, was sponsored by the Nigeria Union of Journalists, the Nigerian Guild of Editors and the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria.

With a bold headline titled ‘Information Blackout’, the advertorial said the NPC and NBC (Media) Act amendment bills being considered by federal lawmakers was geared against the right of citizens information.

“It’s not just against the media,” the advertorial said. “It is about society’s right to know, your right to be heard.”

While the Federal Government already regulates broadcast media organisations through the NBC, it now seeks to extend regulations to online platforms.

In June, the government suspended the operations of social media giant, Twitter, over what it described as national security concerns.

Subsequently, all social media platforms were asked to register with the NBC, while all broadcast stations were ordered to stop using Twitter.

‘We Stand By Press Freedom’: Reps Allay Fears Of Attempt To Gag The Press

File photo of the House of Representatives members during a session

 

The House of Representatives has weighed in on the proposed Press Council Bill currently before the National Assembly, saying that no attempt will be made by the lawmakers to gag the media.

The bill, which is already at the public hearing stage, is being sponsored by Olusegun Odebunmi, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values.

Debate on the bill comes as the Federal Government moves to tighten regulation on social media after suspending Twitter over national security concerns.

But the House spokesman, Benjamin Kalu, who denied rumours that the legislature wants to suppress the press, said the media is not just a tool for disseminating information but a tool for nation-building.

READ ALSO: ‘Information Blackout’: Nigeria Newspapers Campaign Against Media Bills

“If the press is gagged, then we are finished,” he said during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today. “We are legislators today from the ruling party, tomorrow we may be in the opposition. Next tomorrow, we may not be politicians, we may be out there.

“The House has taken a position and that position of the House is that no attempt will be made by the House to gag the press. The press freedom is where we stand and it is part of the legislative agenda of the Ninth Assembly because we see the media not just as a tool for dissemination of information but as a tool for nation-building.”

His remarks come hours after several newspapers in Nigeria on Monday published an advertorial against media regulations bills being considered at the National Assembly.

The advertorial, which appeared on the front pages of dailies such as Punch, Vanguard, The Nation, ThisDay, Guardian, Daily Sun, was sponsored by the Nigeria Union of Journalists, the Nigerian Guild of Editors and the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria.

With a bold headline titled ‘Information Blackout’, the advertorial said the NPC and NBC (Media) Act amendment bills being considered by federal lawmakers was geared against the right of citizens information.