Court dismisses suit seeking to stop enactment of NGO regulatory commission

THE Federal High Court, Abuja on Monday dismissed a suit brought by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), challenging the bill by the National Assembly to enact a regulatory commission to regulate the affairs of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the country.

While dismissing the suit, the trial Judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo held that a bill has no life until it becomes an Act adding that, until a bill becomes an Act, the court cannot be invited into the matter.

He said the right to challenge the bill cannot be equated with the right to challenge a law.

The Judge agreed with the submissions of the respondent that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter, therefore is liable to be dismissed.

Justice Ekwo held in the judgment that, “I am unable to see where the process of making law could infringe on the rights of a person.”

Justice Ekwo held that the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the matter and consequently dismissed the suit.

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The Incorporated Trustees of Paradigm Initiative for Information Technical Development had initiated the suit against the National Assembly, challenging its right to debate and pass the bill, saying if passed into law it would stifle activities of non-governmental organisations in the country.

The Non-Governmental Organisations Regulatory Commission (Establishment) Bill, 2016, is one of the 1, 716 bills currently pending before the 8th National Assembly.

The bill if passed into law makes it compulsory for all NGOs operating in Nigeria to register with the government and requires them to include details, such as location and duration of proposed activities as well as information on all sources of funding.

In addition, the proposed legislation states that NGOs will be required to provide “additional information” as requested by the Board during registration but does not say what this “additional information” would be.

The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on June 2, 2016, by Umar Buba Jibril, a lawmaker from Kogi State, elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The bill was first to read on June 2, 2016, with a second reading on July 14, 2016. It was thereafter referred to the House Committee on CSOs and Development Partners.

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