A federal lawmaker from Oyo state, Olusegun Odebunmi, who sponsored the bills for the amendment to the laws establishing the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission and the Nigerian Press Council, says the legislative process on the bills has been suspended.

 

Media stakeholders have described the steps taken by the lower legislative chamber to amend the NPC and the NBC Acts as 'draconian' and an attempt to stifle free speech in the country.

On Monday, major newspapers started a front-page protest through the publication of a uniform artwork in a resolve to resist the government's attempt to stifle the media's constitutional freedom of speech in Nigeria.

 

But speaking on Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television program, on Tuesday, Odebunmi said he initiated the suspension of the bills to allow for consultation with stakeholders in the industry.

 

He said, "I'm suspending the process for more consultation.

 

"What I'm saying is that the NUJ cannot gag the activities of the national assembly by saying 'No, you must drop it' because obviously, that is not the way.

 

"We have suspended the process for more consultation to happen on it. They demanded a lot of time, and I said, 'no problem, we have given you; even if you spend three, four to five weeks. So far, more consultations from critical stakeholders, and many people have been submitting their memoranda to the national assembly even within the industry."

 

The federal lawmaker also said his intention is not to gag the press, saying he recognizes the lapses in the practice of journalism in Nigeria and that the amendments aim to fix those problems.

 

He said, "My intention is not to gag the press, and unless all the practitioners can say all is well with the industry, to the best of my knowledge, I know all is not well. And I know the national assembly has the power to look into the existing act.

 

"All is not well with the NPC agency. It is an agency of the government, and you're expecting something to be given back to the society, but until now, nothing has been coming from the agency."

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