NGO bill protesters, police lock horns in Abuja

Some civil society groups standing against the seemingly non-governmental organisations bill currently before the National Assembly, stormed Abuja in thousands to register their displeasure for the bill, but were prevented by the security operatives, from entering the complex.
The House of Representatives had recently, passed through second reading, a Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of the Non-Governmental Organizations Regulatory Commission, for the purpose of supervision, coordination and monitoring of Non-Governmental Organizations, Civil Society Organizations in Nigeria and other matters related thereunto.
The Bill, amongst other things, seeks to allow the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), every two years, to renew or review the registration of NGOs, CSOs under the Companies and Allied Matters Act of 1992.
It also seeks to place upon the Federal Ministry of Interior, the regulatory power to approve any project to be carried out in the country, either by local NGOs or international donors.
For a further legislative action, the House mandated its committee on Civil Society Organizations and Development Partners, to organise a 2-day public hearing, starting from Wednesday.
The body of the CSOs, however, found the bill obnoxious and anti people, saying its passage would return the country to the era of tyranny and authoritarianism.
Dr. Obigbe Ibuzor, one of the coordinators of the Protesters and Dr. Odinaka Kalu, told the press that the bill was strategically designed to tactically cow and suppress the NGOs, CSOs and other organisations which had been formidable in development partnership.
“It’s a draconian law, it is devilish, undemocratic and anti people. We won’t take it,” Dr. Ibuzor said.
Aside the watertight security preventing the NGOs from entering the complex, Journalists who gained access to the premises of the public hearing were prevented from covering the proceeding.
Some NGOs, CSOs and other stakeholders who were genuinely invited to present memoranda at the public hearing were also barred from gaining access to the hall, apparently to regulate the entrance of participants.
“They knew the bill will fail, they knew no one would support its passage, that’s why they are preventing genuine NGOs from participating in the public hearing. We stand to reject this bill and we won’t give up”, one of the leaders of CSO, Joseph Okon, told our reporter.