The Nigerian Press Council (NPC) appears to be unrelenting in its quest to regulate the media in Nigeria, as the council has requested the House of Representatives to pass laws that will compel journalists and media houses to register with it.
The Executive Secretary of the Council, Francis Nwosu, while defending the budget of the council on Wednesday before the House Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values, said the NPC “needs the money from the registrations to survive.”
Mr Nwosu, the Minister of information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, the National Broadcasting Commission and the Chairman of the House Committee on information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values, Segun Odebunmi, have been at the forefront of several efforts to censor the media.
In July, the public hearing on the NBC and the press council bills generated outcry across the country, as media houses stood in solidarity against the bills.
The bills contain several provisions many believe are attempts by the government to gag the media.
Consequently, the sponsor of the bills, Mr Odebunmi, was forced to suspend the bills.
In a new fresh plot to awaken the bills, Mr Nwosu said the press council bill is not just about regulating media houses, but a means to generate money for the council.
He appealed to the lawmakers to consider regulations that will ensure that journalists are compelled “to register with the council, have a licence to operate”.
“By this, I mean we need to regulate journalists — take them to register, the newspapers houses to register as corporate organisations — pay royalty or some amount of money and renewable revenue to the council; that way we can raise some money,” he said.
Responding to Mr Nwosu’s request, Mr Odebunmi said the House will be making funds available for the committee “to produce regulations on media”. He, however, said the regulation must be a product of wide consultation.
“As regards the pure regulation of the journalists, no doubt about it the leadership will make some funds available for us to engage more critical stakeholders, no doubt about that, unless we don’t want this country to stand again,” he said.
He asked the council should continue to function within its existing mandate.
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