By Christiana Ekpa
The Nigeria Press Organisation (NPO), yesterday asked the House of Representatives Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values to step down a Bill seeking amendment to the Nigeria Press Council (NPC) establishment Act over a pending court litigation.
Peoples Daily report that, NPO is the umbrella organisation for the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) —which constituents part of the NPO.
Editor in Chief of the Leadership Newspapers, and representative of the NPO organisation, Mr. Azu Ishiekwene while speaking before the committee on Thursday on the amendment bill, recalled that in 2010 the NPO got a court ruling that 17 out of 39 clauses of Press Freedom Bill were unsconstitutional, a decision the federal government appealed and got a ruling in its favour in December 2015, but that the said ruling was again appealed by NPO and still pending in the Supreme Court.
“The matter that is under consideration now is before the supreme court. In 2010, the NPO which is the umbrella organisation for the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) — these are the constituents part of the NPO.
“It is a matter that has been pending in court since 1999 but the first decisive ruling in the matter came in 2010 when the high court ruled that 17 out of the 39 clauses in the bill were unconstitutional, the federal government appeal and got a ruling in December 2010. That ruling was again appealed by the NPO and it is pending in the Supreme Court”, he noted, and said for that reason, the bill should be stepped down.
Responding however, Chairman of the committee, Hon. Odebunmi Dokun said “no court will stop us from passing the bill. We have the mandiate of the National Assembly and the Nigerian people”.
In its submissions, the Nigerian Press Council (NPC), through its Executive Secretary, Mr. Francis Nwosu admitted that there had been an existing litigation over detain provisions in the law, opined that certain proposals in the amendment bill will ensure quality control.
On the preparation of code of ethics for practitioners, the NPC said there was need for stakeholders to be involved and fully carried along, to ensure wide acceptability. “The power to appoint should be bequeathed to to the powers of the Council”, Nwosu stated.
The NPC said its existence was not only desirable as it serve as an efficient and inexpensive forum for hearing complaints, but in addition, “as alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism that helps in reducing the barrage of litigations that otherwise, would clog the courts”.