Falana to Reps: Your NGO bill, worst ever piece of legislation *Angry Protesters storm NASS against Lawmakers

By Editor on 13/12/2017

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Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, has described the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Bill as the ‘worst piece of legislation’ in the history of Nigeria.

Falana said this in a statement signed by him on Wednesday in which he said the bill unequivocally threatens the existence of a free and independent civil society in the country.

“This is perhaps the worst piece of legislation in Nigeria’s history,” he said.

“Under the bill, any civil society group advocating for human rights, basic freedoms and good governance can be shut down and criminalised. The bill if passed will ultimately have a disastrous impact on Nigerian citizens’ democratic participation in furthering the development of their own country.”

Falana further called on the Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara to stop the passage of the bill.

The controversial NGO Bill aims to regulate and monitor the activities of all civil society organisations and labour unions in the country.

The HB585 Bill seeks the establishment of non-governmental organisations regulatory commission for the supervision, coordination and monitoring of non-governmental organisations and civil society groups among others and for related matters.

Meanwhile, Protesters from various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) stormed the national assembly on Wednesday to kick against the passage of the controversial ‘NGO bill’.

The house of representatives committee on civil society organisations and development partners is currently holding a public hearing on the bill.

The protesters marched down to the national assembly entrance gate from the Unity Fountain.

Amnesty International on Tuesday urged Nigerians to put up an opposition to the bill which it said will have devastating consequences.

Amnesty said the bill is capable of “shrinking the freedom of Nigerians”.

“The bill will have devastating effects on Nigerians which is why they are trying to pass it as quickly as possible, before too many people take action to stop it,” it said.

“The so-called ‘NGO’ bill will keep Nigerians from freely sharing their opinions, holding open discussion forums or organizing people to protest.”

The public hearing on the bill will end on Thursday, December 14.

 

NGO Bill Worst Legislation Piece In Nigeria’s History – FalanaFalana

Falana’s statement read in part:

I urge Speaker Dogara to reject entirely the bill as it falls significantly short of international human rights norms governing the rights to freedom of association and peaceful assembly, in particular, Section 40 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Articles 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Articles 10 and 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

The bill allows government authorities to de-register local and international associations and NGOs if they consider them as not working in the ‘national interest’.

Government can similarly deny registration on the vague grounds that the purpose and goal of the associations or NGOs are ‘inconsistent with the programmes of government’. Associations and NGOs operating without registration in Nigeria will face criminal liability.

The excessively broad and vague provisions and administrative discretion givento the authorities in regulating the work of community associations, labour unions, NGOs and other civil society groups can be wielded as tools to intimidate, and even suppress, dissenting views and opinions in the country.

The bill places undue restrictions on the right to freely associate, which is a fundamental freedom and essential component of democracy, as recognised by the UN Human Rights Council.

Should the bill be passed into law, I will vigorously challenge it in court on the grounds of its unconstitutionality and incompatibility with Nigeria’s international and regional human rights obligations and commitments.

Femi Falana, SAN


 

Source Press Release

Posted on December, 13 2017

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