Member of House of Representatives, Olusegun Odebunmi temporarily suspends Press Regulation Bill

Member of the House of Representatives, Olusegun Odebunmi had announced on Tuesday, 13th of July, 2021 that the amendment proposals of the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Act and the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) Act have been suspended.⁣

This was due to the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), and the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) that underwent a massive publicity promotion this week, saying that both bills were attempts to gag information in the country.⁣

“It’s not just against the media, it’s about society’s right to know, your right to be heard,” a full-page advert on major newspapers in Nigeria read on Monday, 12th of July, 2021.

However, Odebunmi on Tuesday denied the allegations, saying instead that he’s only reviewing the laws to keep up with the demands of the world.⁣

He said the National Assembly has the right to work on laws, and that the suspension does not signify a defeat of the bills.⁣

“We have suspended the process for more consultation to happen on it. They (stakeholders) demanded a lot of time. No problem,” the Chairman, House Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics, and Values, said in a televised interview.⁣

Some of the controversial elements of the NPC bill mandates that the Minister of Information has to approve a national press code to guide the conduct of the media in Nigeria.⁣

Another section of the bill also criminalizes the dissemination of fake news with a fine of N5 million or a term of two years imprisonment, or both, for individuals.⁣

Media organizations used to disseminate fake news are also liable on conviction to an N10 million fine, or closure for one year, or both, and an N20 million compensation to be paid to the subject of the fake story.⁣

The NBC amendment bill also aims to mandate the NBC to regulate online media organizations, and social media, a long-term objective of the current Federal Government.

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