A professor of International Law and Jurisprudence at the University of Lagos, Akin Oyebode; and a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), have separately condemned the Non-Governmental Organisation bill being considered by the National Assembly.
While Agbakoba argued that the bill was unnecessary, Oyebode described it as nothing but an attempt to silence civil society organisations, which had been holding the government to account.
In a statement on Tuesday, Agbakoba said argued that there was no reason for such a bill because, according to him, “there is a plethora of laws in our statute books regulating activities of NGOs in Nigeria.”
He said he shared in the concern of his colleagues in the civil society who perceived the bill as an attempt to proscribe some NGOs in the country.
While condemning the bill being sponsored by the Deputy Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Umar Buba Jubril, Agbakoba said, “I am shocked that 18 years after defeating the military and enthroning democracy, the civil society still has to fight to exist in a democracy. I urge the National Assembly to withdraw the bill.”
On his own part, Oyebode rejected the argument that the NGO bill was meant to check corruption among NGOs.
The don spoke at a round-table for mobilising mass action against corruption in the country.
The programme, which held in Ikeja, Lagos, was organised by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project in collaboration with the National Endowment for Democracy.
Oyebode, who was the guest speaker, delivered a paper, titled “Strategies for mobilising mass action to demand anti-corruption reforms and an end to impunity for grand corruption in Nigeria.”
He said, “The recent attempt by the National Assembly, with the NGO bill, to control, monitor and eventually sequester the CSOs, all because of the excuse that some CSOs are corrupt, should not be allowed. Cutting off the head is not the cure for headache; the bill is overkill. If they cage organisations like SERAP, who will fight for the masses? The government does not want anybody to act as impediment to their thievery activities.
“Corruption is now thriving more than ever before, despite the ongoing fight against it. However, international law has really helped with a plethora of laws against corruption, it now behoves citizens to take advantage of this laws to fight against corruption.”
Oyebode said except something drastic was done, corruption would eventually “result in the mortality of Nigeria as a nation state.” Punch