Many newspapers in Nigeria on Monday, July 12, 2021, published an advertorial against media regulations bills being considered at the National Assembly.
The advertorial by the various newspapers in the country appeared on the front pages of dailies such as Vanguard, Punch The Nation, ThisDay, Guardian, as well as Daily Sun, which was sponsored by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN).
With a bold headline titled ‘Information Blackout’, the advertorial said the NPC and NBC (Media) Act amendment bills being considered by the national assembly was geared against the right of citizens information.
“It’s not just against the media,” the advertorial said. “It is about society’s right to know, your right to be heard.”
The bills, which are already at the public hearing stage, are being sponsored by Olusegun Odebunmi, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values.
Mr Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and human rights activists has described the bills as “anti-media.”
Debate on the bill comes as the Federal Government moves to tighten regulation on social media after suspending Twitter over what they called national security concerns.
Meanwhile, Mr Odebunmi has said his bill to amend the Nigerian Press Council act is not designed to gag the media.
“Most of the people commenting on the bill have no knowledge of it,” he said recently, as reported by Vanguard newspaper.
“The bill was not sponsored by Federal Government of Nigeria, even the Minister of Information was only aware a few days to presentation and he did not have any input on the bill.
“It is my idea because I feel we should not wait for a supreme court judgment to do what is right by amending the existing controversial law.” Mr Odebunmi added.