LIVE UPDATES: Reps hold public hearing on NGO bill

Public hearing on the controversial NGO bill.

The House of Representatives committee on Non-Governmental Organisations and International Development Partners will today hold a public hearing on the controversial NGO bill.

The controversial bill seeks to set up a federal agency to be known as the NGO Regulatory Commission to regulate activities of NGO’s and civil society organisations, CSOs, across the country.

The bill had come under heavy criticism by many Nigerians including a serving senator from Kaduna State, Shehu Sani.

Mr. Sani had vowed that he would fight against the bill when it comes to the Senate

PREMIUM TIMES brings to you live updates from the public hearing.

10:50: Civil society organizations, religious leaders and invited guests already seated

In his remarks, the speaker’s representative said “the roles of the CSO cannot be overemphasised; they are are involved in poverty reduction, human rights”

“The bill to regulate NGO’s has generated a lot of public interest”

“The processs of lawmaking will always be subjected to public scrutiny.”

11:01 Chairman of the committee, Peter Akpatasonn giving his opening remarks

11:05 Speaker Yakubu Dogara invited to declare the public hearing open. He is represented by the chairman of the house committee on finance, Babangida Ibrahim

11:20 Adoption of memos by CSO’s. So far, no organisation has withdrawn its submission.

11:48 Catholic Archbishop of Sokoto, Mathew Kuka, in his submission said he stands with civil societies very firmly.

“I think we should divert our energies to other things.

“The greatest benefit for us in a democracy is freedom.”

12:01: “A resounding NO to NGO regulation” – Clement Nwankwo, Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Center, PLAC

Protesters in their hundreds on Wednesday besieged the National Assembly to prevent the passage of a bill for an act to provide for the establishment of the Non-governmental Organisation, NGO, regulatory commission.

The protest was led by renowned human rights activist, Chidi Odinkalu.

The protesters clad in shirts bearing ‘#NoToNOGBill chanted songs to taunt Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and other members of the National Assembly.

The protesters were however denied entry as security operatives shut the gate of the National Assembly.

After minutes of heated arguments and negotiations with security operatives, some of the protesters were allowed in.

Creating the NGO regulatory commission means killing Nigerian women and children because when there was an outbreak of meningitis in Kano, the government was helpless; but my organisation flew in vaccines within 24 hours. “If there was an NGO agency, we wouldn’t have been able to do that,” Mike Egboh speaking for health reform sector coalition

A former member of the House of Representatives, Abdul Oroh, who was deputy chairman of house committee on human rights, said civil society organisations are collectively a force for good.

He added that the House of Representatives should rather work to strengthen democracy.

“You cannot be accountable to government if you are not a government organisation,” he said.

BREAKING: NGO bill suffers setback, gets zero support at public hearing

None of the persons who appeared before Nigerian lawmakers on Wednesday expressed support for the bill to regulate non-governmental organisations, NGOS.

A public hearing on the bill was held at by the House of Representatives at the National Assembly complex in Abuja.

At the hearing, all the attendees, including a Catholic cleric, Matthew Kukah, and a former lawmaker, Abdul Oroh, opposed the bill.

The bill seeks to, among others, create an NGO Regulatory Commission to regulate NGO’S and civil society organisations, CSOs.

The bill, sponsored by a lawmaker, has been criticised ‎by many activists and NGOs as government’s way of clamping down on civic groups.

While the hearing was going on, scores of protesters marched to the National Assembly asking that the bill be scrapped.

The bill recently passed second reading at the House of Representatives and subsequently referred to the committee on civil society organisations and development partners.

In his submission after the public hearing, the chairman of the committee, Peter Akpatason, assured that he will present the recommendations of the committee to the House without bias.

He had earlier asked if there was any attendee ‎who was in support of the bill. There was none.

Details later…

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