The House of Representatives at its plenary session of Tuesday, 17 March 2020 withdrew indefinitely the Bill seeking to establish a Civil Society Organization (CSO) Regulatory Commission charged with the responsibility of regulating the activities of CSOs operating in Nigeria.
Leading the debate on the Bill, Hon. Abbas Tajudeen (APC: Kaduna) mentioned the highlight of the Bill to include:
- Developing a database on CSOs in Nigeria for record purposes and ease of reference;
- Promoting accountability and transparency in the activities of CSOs through effective legislative scrutiny;
- Fraud prevention and misuse of donor funds for personal transactions; and
- Developing and enforcing a Code of Conduct that guides the operations of CSOs.
Hon. Tajudeen informed lawmakers that the establishment of a Commission is pertinent, as this would further address the challenges of co-ordination among CSOs as a result of the absence of a regulatory framework.
However, other lawmakers were of the opinion that Bill sought to infringe on the rights of citizens as stated in Section 45 of the 1999 Constitution as amended and called for further strengthening of agencies established by law to coordinate the activities of CSOs and Donor Agencies in Nigeria.
Hon. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta (PDP: Abia) drew the attention of the House of Representatives to a prior attempt by the 8th Assembly to pass a similar Bill which was unsuccessful and described any effort to restrict the activities of CSOs as “undemocratic”.