If Nigerians fail to rise up against a proposed law to regulate activities of civil society organisations (CSOs), the effects will be devastating, Amnesty International has warned.
Amnesty said the bill is capable of “shrinking the freedom of Nigerians.”
Despite the opposition the bill has faced, the House of Representatives announced on Monday that it would push through with a public hearing, having passed Second Reading.
The public hearing on the bill is slated for December 13-14.
But, AI warned in a statement, yesterday, that government and “people in power are currently trying to rush this bill through, in order to quickly silence us. The Nigerian government has just announced a public vote on a designed bill, to take away the freedoms of the Nigerian people.
“And, if you don’t act now and vote against it before December 14, when the public hearing finishes, it could be too late.
“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.
“The so-called ‘NGO’ bill will keep Nigerians from freely sharing their opinions, holding open discussion forums or organising people to protest.”
Former Education minister, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Chidi Odinkalu and Senator Shehu Sani are some of the high-profile proponents of the bill.
Sponsor of the bill and Deputy House Leader, Bala Jubril, in September, said there is no going back on the proposed legislation.
“Its passage will regulate registration, funding and use of foreign consultants by certain aid donors and organisations providing humanitarian services in the country.”
The bill, which has seven chapters and 58 clauses, states that “funds pledged by donors (to NGOs) must be disclosed before implementation of projects, including mode of disbursement and conditions attached to the funding by (the) donor,” among other highlights.
Shortly after the bill came to life, Odinkalu had released a video explaining its consequences and impact on religious bodies, humanitarian agencies and also, the traditional esusu system.