If Nigerians fail to rise up against the proposed law to regulate activities of civil society organisations (CSOs), the effects will be devastating, Amnesty International has warned.
Amnesty said the bill is capable of “shrinking the freedom of Nigerians”.
Despite the opposition the bill has faced, the House of Representatives announced on Monday that it would push through with a public hearing, having passed second reading.
The public hearing on the bill is slated for December 13 and 14.
Amnesty on Tuesday said the Nigerian government and people in power are currently “trying to rush this bill through, in order to quickly silence us”.
It said: “The Nigerian government has just announced a public vote on a designed bill to take away the freedoms of Nigerian people. And if don’t act now and vote against it before the 14th of December, when the public hearing finishes, it could be too late.
“The bill will have devastating effects on Nigerians which is why they are trying to pass it as quickly as possible, before too many people take action to stop it.
“The so-called ‘NGO’ bill will keep Nigerians from freely sharing their opinions, holding open discussion forums or organizing people to protest.”
Chidi Odinkalu, former chairman National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and Oby Ezekwesili, a former minister of education and senator Shehu Sani are some of the high-profile proponents of the bill.
Bala Jubril, sponsor of the bill and deputy leader of the house, in September said there was no going back on the proposed legislation.
He had said: “Its passage will regulate registration, funding and use of foreign consultants by certain aid donors and organizations providing humanitarian services in the country.”
The bill, which has seven chapters and 58 clauses, states that “funds pledged by donors (to NGOs) must be disclosed before implementation of project, including mode of disbursement and condition attached to the funding by donor,” among other highlights.
Shortly after the bill came to life, Odinkalu had released a video explaining its consequences and impact on religious bodies, humanitarian agencies and also the traditional esusu system.