- The present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has suffered stinging criticisms from Nigerians
- Seun Onigbinde who is one of those who have kept the government on its toes says there is a plan to crush all those in opposition
- Onigbinde is one of the leaders of Nigeria's civic tech organisation - BudgIT Nigeria
One of the leaders of Nigeria's civic tech organisation - BudgIT Nigeria, Seun Onigbinde, has raised an alarm that there is a plan to crush dissent in Nigeria.
Onigbinde made the claim via his Twitter page monitored by NAIJ.com on Tuesday, July 25.
He said the plan has been made manifest in Nigerian Universities, law schools and now there is a focus on Non-Governmental Organisations in the country.
He however refused to mention names and refrained from making additional comments on the issue.
The tweet from the famous social activist got 80 retweets and 35 like from his followers.
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NAIJ.com checks however reveals that Onigbinde might be referring to a legislation in Nigeria’s House of Representatives called the NGO Regulation Bill sponsored by the Deputy Majority Leader of the House, Honourable Umar Buba Jibril.
The bill proposes to create an NGO Regulatory Commission, which will be headed by an executive secretary appointed by the president for five years and a 17-member governing board, led by a chairman, all of whom shall also be appointed by the president.
According to the provisions of the proposed bill, the board will have powers to license all NGOs. Without the license of the board, no NGO can operate in Nigeria.
Furthermore, the license of the NGO board alone will confer legal personality and perpetual succession on NGOs. However, such a license must be renewed every 24 months. If not, legal personality is lost.
Also, the board can refuse renewal for no reason. It can also waive all the requirements of the law, including registration.
The commission which is expected to be under the purview of the ministry of interior can be directed by the minister to register or de-register any NGO.
The bill also mandates all NGOs to submit reports to the board of their money, where they get it from and how much. Before an NGO spends any money received, it must secure the permission of the NGO board. If it does not, it violates the law. The board is also expected to license NGOs on co-operation with international bodies.
Any violation of the bill when passed into law is a crime punishable with up to 18 months in prison.
Interestingly, the board will enjoy substantial immunity under law and from process and any judgement against it cannot be enforced except with the express permission of the serving Attorney-General of the Federation.
The bill also proposes that the board will also oversee a voluntary code of conduct for NGOs. The Code will be operated by a National Council for Voluntary Agencies.
NAIJ.com gathered that the bill has already passed first and second readings in the House and has been remitted to committee.
In a piece published on The Cable by famous social activist and lawyer, Chidi Odinkalu, he described the bill as “toxic”.
Odinkalu who chairs the Council of the Section on Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), stated that, “the bill is stunning in its audacity, far reaching in its scope and a danger to elective government in Nigeria.”
He also called for the bill not to be passed, stressing that it will constrain the civic space and destroy dissent.
The bill is coming at a time the federal government recently expressed its intent to establish a commission to regulate social media content in the country.
The bill also confirm rumours in some quarters that the federal government of Nigeria under the Muhammadu Buhari administration is hell-bent on muzzling opposition in the country.
Watch the NAIJ.com TV vox pop below where Nigerians appraised the leadership qualities of President Buhari: