The Nigerian Press and Practice of Journalism Council Bill(1)

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For the record:
A Bill   for an Act to Provide for the repeal of the Nigerian Press Council Act, 1992, and establish the Nigerian Press and Practice of Journalism Council, to provide high profession standards for the Nigerian Press and deal with complaints emanating from members of the public about the conduct of journalists and media houses in their professional capacity, or complaints emanating from the press about the conduct of persons, organisations or institutions of government towards the press and for other matters connected therein.

Sponsored by Hon. Abike Dabiri

Be it enacted by the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as follows:

Part 1 – Establishment of the Nigerian Press and Practice of Journalism Council (NPPJC)
1.There is hereby established a body to be known as the Nigerian Press and Practice of Journalism Council (in this Act referred to as “the council of Journalism”) which shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal and may sue and be sued in its corporate name.

2 (1) The Council of Journalism shall consist a chairman and the following other members, that is-
(a) four representatives of the Nigerian Union of Journalists;
(b) two representatives of the Nigerian Guild of Editors;

(c) two representatives of the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria who shall be practising journalist;
(d) four representatives of the general public; one of whom shall be a legal practitioner and one woman;
(e) one representative of education institutions involved in the training of journalists

(f) one representative of the Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation who shall be a practising journalists
(g) two representatives of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria;

(h) one representative of the News Agency of Nigeria, who shall be a practising journalists; and

(i) Executive Secretary of the Council of Journalism
(2) The chairman of the Council of Journalism shall be appointed by the president, on the recommendation of the minister, after due consideration of the submission of the Nigerian Press Organisation and shall be a person –
(a) of high intellectual and moral qualities and knowledge about the press and public affairs; and

(b) With not less than twenty years experience as a journalist

(3) The members of the Council of Journalism appointed under the paragraphs (d) and (f) of subsection (l) of this section shall be appointed by the Minister and members of the Council appointed under paragraph (a), (b), (c), (e), (g) and (f) of the said subsection shall be appointed by the Minister after an election by or on the nomination of the union, association of other body concerned.

(4) The supplementary provisions set out in the First Schedule to this Act shall have effect with respect to the tenure of office and proceedings of the Council and the other matters contained therein.

(3) The Council shall be charged with the duty of –
(a) enquiring into complaints about the conduct of the press and the conduct of any person or organisation towards the press and exercising in respect of the complaints the powers conferred upon it under this Act;
(b) monitoring the activities of the press with a view to ensuring compliance with the code of Professional and ethical conduct as provided for in this Act;
(c) receiving application form, and documenting the print media and monitoring their performance to ensure that owners and publishers comply with the terms of their mission statements and objectives in liaison with the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria;

(d) researching into contemporary press development and engaging in updating press documentation
(e) fostering the achievement and maintaining of high professional standards by the press;
(f) reviewing developments likely to restrict the supply through the press, of information of public interest and importance of which are liable to prevent free access of the press to information and advising on measures necessary to prevent or remedy such development;

(g) ensuring the protection of the rights and privileges of journalists in the lawful performance of their professional duties

4 (1) There shall be appointed for the Council of Journalism an Executive Secretary by the President; on the recommendation of the Minister

(2) The executive secretary shall –
(a) be a journalist with at least 15 years post qualification experience and shall have held high journalist positions;
(b) be the chief executive of the Council;
(c) be responsible for the execution of the policy of the Council and of its day-to-day administration;
(d) in addition to the functions expressly conferred on him by this Act; perform such other functions as the Council may, from time to time, direct;

(e) hold office on such terms as to emolument and otherwise, as may be specified in his letter of appointment and may, from time to time, be approved by the president;
(f) subject to this, the executive secretary shall hold office for a term of four years in the first instance and may be eligible for reappointment for a further term of four years;
(g) the executive secretary may be removed from office on the recommendation of the Minister for inability to discharge the functions of his office arising from infirmity of mind of body or from other cause.

5 (1) The Council may appoint other employees as it may consider necessary for the efficient performance of the Council’s duties under this Act
(2) The terms of service (include terms and conditions as to remuneration; allowances; retiring benefits and discipline) of the secretary and other employees of the Council shall be such as may be determined, from time to time, by the Council

(3) In carrying out the functions for which the Council is established under this Act, the Council shall be autonomous and shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other authority or person except as provided in this Act
6 (1) Service in the Council shall be approved service for purpose of the Pension Act
(2) Employees of the Council shall be entitled to pension, gratuities and any other retirement benefits as are enjoyed by persons holding equivalent grades in the civil service of the Federation

(3) Nothing in subsection (1) or (2) of this section shall prevent the appointment of a person to any office on terms which preclude the grant of pensions and gratuity in respect of that office –
(4) For the purpose of the application of the provisions of the Pension Act, any power exercisable thereunder by a Minister or authority of the Government of the Federation, other than the power to make regulations under section 29 thereof is hereby vested in and shall be exercisableby the Council other than any other person or authority

7 Without prejudice to the provisions of sections 6 of this Act, the terms and conditions of service including terms and conditions of remunerations, allowance, retirement and other benefits of the staff and other employees of the council shall be as may be determined by the Council with the approval of the Minister

Part II Power the Council of Journalism

8. In carrying out the functions for which the Council is established under this Act, the Council shall be autonomous and shall not be subject to the direction of control of any other authority or person except as provided in this Act.
9 (1) The Nigerian Union of Journalists shall provide a code of Professional and Ethnial Conduct to guide the press and journalists in the performance of their duties

(2) The Nigerian Union of Journalists shall cause a revision of such a code of Professional and Ethical Conduct as deemed appropriate from time to time to conform with media practices
(3) The Council shall, after due consideration, approve the code of professional and Ethical conduct by the Nigerian Union of Journalists and ensure compliance

(4) The Council shall cause to be published in the Nigeria Press and Practice of Journalism Council Journal, the code of Professional and Ethical Conduct as approved under subsection (3) of this subsection which shall be binding on every journalist in Nigeria

10 Every member of the council shall be required on assuming office, to subscribe to an oath that he shall faithfully and impartially and to the best of his ability, discharge his duties with respect to any inquiry conducted by the Council under this Act, and if the inquiry is not held in public, that he shall not divulge the proceedings, the vote or opinion of the members or any other matter relevant to the inquiry.

11 (1) Subject to the provisions of this Act the Council shall, following complaints lodged before it by any person, have the power to –

(a) inquiry into and examine all such witness as the Council may deem it fi;
(b) without prejudice to provisions of the code of Professional and Ethical Conduct, summon any person in Nigeria to attend any meeting of the Council to give evidence and to examine him as a witness in the case of journalists;

(c) consider and deal with any matter referred to it in the absence of any party who has been duty summoned to appear before it;
(d) admit any evidence, whether written or oral and act on evidence, whether written or oral;
(e) appoint any person to act as a interpreter in any matter brought before it;

(f) generally give all such directions and do all such things as are necessary or expedient for dealing speedily and justly with any matter referred to it from time to time
(2) Summons issued under subection 1) (b) of this section shall be in the form set out in Second Schedule to this Act and shall be served by such persons as the Council may direct/

12 The Chairman shall have power to issue on behalf of the Council all summons and appoint such number of interpreters as may be required under this Act, either before or during the inquiry until the final determinations.
13  Any interpreter appointed under section 12 of this Act shall before assuming office, subscribe before the Council, to the oath specified in the Third Schedule to this Act.

14 The chairman shall have power to issue on behalf of the Council all summons and appoint such number of interpreters as may be required under this Act, either before or during the inquiry of witness and interpreters.

Witnesses and interpreters and any other persons attending the inquiry at the request of the Councillor upon summons, shall be paid such sums, allowances or expenses, as the case may be, as the Council may, from time to time, direct and such payments shall be defrayed from the funds of the Council.

15 No member shall be liable for any act done or omitted to be done in the performance of his duties under or pursuant to this Act. Provided such act or commission is not inimical to Justice, Equity and the interests of the general public.
16  – (1) Complaints shall come to the Council by way of Appeal arising from the decision of the Media Practitioner Complaint Commission.

(2) Any person aggrieved —
(a) by anything published in respect of him in any medium of information; or
(b) by anything done in respect of him by any journalist in his capacity as a journalist; or
(c) by anything done against the journalist that is capable of limiting the preservation of the freedom of the Press guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, may make a complaint in respect thereof, in writing, addressed to the Council.

(3) If the Council is satisfied that the performance of the press is not consistent with the provisions of the Code of Professional and Ethical Conduct, the executive secretary shall, in accordance with such general directions as may be given by the Council, lay before the Council all appeals made under subsection (1) of this section.

17 – (1) where, after inquiring into a complaint under section 16 of this Act, the Council is satisfied that-
(a) the subject matter in respect of which the complaint was made, was not in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Professional and Ethical Conduct:

Continues tomorrow

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