A coalition of Civil Society Organisations is now in court to challenge the NGO Bill currently before the National Assembly. The coalition consists of Paradigm Initiative, Enough is Enough, Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria, Media Rights Agenda and Laws and Rights Awareness Initiative.
The coalition, in a motion filed on Wednesday before the Federal High Court holden in Abuja, is challenging the controversial NGO bill on the ground that the bill violates the constitutionally guaranteed rights to freely associate and assemble. The respondents are National Assembly and the House of Representatives.
According to ‘Boye Adegoke, a Program Manager at Paradigm Initiative, “We consider this court process as an important civil means of seeking redress and getting a lasting solution to the current challenge referred to as the NGO Bill. Mindful of the atrocious capabilities of governments with respect to regulation and proscription, we feel the civil society community in Nigeria is under imminent threat from far-reaching provisions of this bill”.
He continued, “We consider the bill as a cynical attempt by the Nigerian government to muzzle dissent and perpetuate disregard for laid down rules and laws. We won’t stand by to allow this. This court process is our way of lending our voices to the ongoing advocacy against the bill across the country.”
The coalition also said, “the argument that the bill is about accountability is inherently flawed as there are already laws that deal with this.”
The motion is brought pursuant to the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009, sections 39 and 40 of the Nigerian Constitution as amended. The relief being sought by the applicants are that the NGO Bill violates the constitutionally guaranteed rights to freely associate and assemble and the principles of freedom of expression and press. The applicants are seeking a perpetual injunction on further legislative activities or processes on the bill.
No date has been assigned yet by the Court for the hearing of the motion.