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Press Council Bill: Presidency, Reps Set To ‘Ground’ Newspapers

There are fears on Thursday June 17, 2021, that a bill seeking to amend the Nigeria Press Council (NPC) Act will lead to the death of serious newspapers in Nigeria if it scaled through the two chambers of the National Assembly and finally assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari, Daily Trust reports.

Strong voices against the bill said on Thursday at a public hearing in the House of Representatives that some provisions in the proposed amendment to the APC Act would make it difficult for the media houses to operate in an atmosphere of freedom and hold those in the position of authority to account.

The Nigerian Press Organisation (NPO), an umbrella body comprising the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) has therefore called on the House of Representatives to step down the bill immediately.

This is even as media rights groups and other critical stakeholders in the media industry kicked against any move to infringe on press freedom through the proposed amendment of the NPC Act.

Representative of NPO, Azu Ishiekwene, who is also the Editor-in-Chief of Leadership newspapers, made the call for the bill to be dumped Thursday at a public hearing organised by the House Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values.

Before the NPO presentation Thursday, the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN) through its Chairman, Malam Kabiru A. Yusuf who is also the chairman of Media Trust Limited, said amendment to the NPC Act would have important consequences on the freedom of the press in particular and good governance in general.

The latest debate on the faith of newspapers came days after the federal government banned the American microblogging and social networking service, Twitter from Nigeria’s cyberspace.

The federal government had also directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all Over-The-Top (OTT) media services and social media operations in Nigeria.

It said platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and others must now be registered in Nigeria.

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