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.
‘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.