The Newspaper Proprietorsâ€™ Association of Nigeria (NPAN), has condemned the strange Press Council Bill now circulating at the National Assembly which seeks to impose government control on the Nigerian press.
At the end of its meeting, last Thursday, NPAN, in a statement signed by its Executive Secretary, Mr. Feyi Smith, noted that:
“NPAN is saddened that in 2OO9 when Nigerians had hoped that progress had been made in dismantling the obstacles to a free press, there are some people who are enacting a bill that will take us back to the era of government control.
“It would appear that history is lost on the promoters of this bill because the Press in Nigeria has always stood against any attempt to emasculate it. As a democracy, we believe that Nigeria should be making much progress at freeing up the space for public discourse and engagement and ensuring that every effort at instituting accountability is encouraged.
“The association cannot see the logic in this bill, which in its design seeks to replace the existing Nigeria Press Council Decree with the Nigerian Press and Practice of Journalism Council.
“As effortsÂ beforeÂ it, thisÂ bill beginsÂ onÂ theÂ faulty and diabolic premise that the Federal GovernmentÂ Â Â Â should determine what the public should know and seeks to abridge the right of the people to information and to hold their leaders accountable to those who elected them.
“In 1999, NPAN instituted a case at theÂ Federal High Court, Lagos, seeking to abrogate the Nigerian Press Council Decree because it was our view that its provisions are inimical to the smooth functioning of a free Press.
“That suit, No: FHC/UC/1324/99, is still pending before the courts and it would now seem that the promoters of this vexatious bill now seek to make the final outcome of that suit a nullity.
“NPAN and other stakeholders have already established an Ombudsman process and calls on Nigerians to support the process and to fight to defeat this evil bill and any other measures that seek to curtail their freedom of information,” it added.