Tuesday, March 17, 2020
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Reps kick against another bill seeking regulation of NGOs, CSOs

Reps kick against another bill seeking regulation of NGOs, CSOs
March 17
15:34 2020
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Members of the house of representatives have kicked against a new bill that seeks to control and regulate the civil society and non-governmental organisations in Nigeria.

The bill, which seeks to establish the Civil Societies Regulatory Commission, was rejected by majority of the lawmakers at Tuesday’s plenary session.

The opposition during its debate prompted Abbas Tajudeen from Kaduna state, its sponsor, to withdraw the bill, even before it was put to vote.

A similar bill to regulate the CSOs and NGOs, which was introduced by the previous assembly, was unanimously opposed during a public hearing in 2017.

The proposed commission in the new bill will determine “whether or not institutions are civil societies, facilitate better administration of civil societies and give such advice or guidance with respect to the administration of civil societies as it considers appropriate.”

Tajudeen said the bill is to ensure a coordinated regulation of the organisations for the purpose of “straightening their capacities to promote democracy and development” in Nigeria.

The lawmaker said some of the CSOs and NGOs are “used to perpetrate fraud and crimes”, and that such commission will ensure they operate within the confines of the law.

“It will also ensure accountability and transparency. Some of them cease to exist after obtaining funds while some convert the funds for personal use, leading donor agencies to blacklist Nigerians,” he argued.

But virtually all his colleagues who spoke after his submission disagreed with him; they argued the regulation is aimed at “suffocating” the civil society and trampling on the rights of Nigerians.

Bamidele Salam from Osun state said the national assembly should always protect the rights of Nigerians to assemble freely and “parts of this bill seeks to trample on that right.”

“The whole essence of the bill is an attempt to muzzle free speech. It is not one we should allow because it will infringe on the rights of Nigerians, and we are talking about reducing the cost of governance,” he said.

Uzoma Nkem Abonta from Delta state said: “This bill will throw more confusion as I do not see the ill it intends to cure. The problem of Nigerians is not the civil societies.”

It was in the course of submissions against the bill that its sponsor informed the green chamber that he has decided to withdraw it.

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