N’Assembly Won’t Pass Bill To Gag Press: Gbajabiamila

Gbaja: N’Assembly Won’t Pass Bill To Gag Press — But Media Should Be Regulated
Femi Gbajabiamila

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has expressed that no bill seeking to gag the press will be passed on the floor of the house.

He stated this while speaking on Monday an event organised by the press corps of the lower chamber in Abuja.

Gbajabiamila said the press is the voice of the people and no attempt to gag it will prevail.

He, however, pointed out that there is need for social media regulation.

“Let me say this. I will not be part of any bill that will seek to gag the press. I want to say it loud and clear if that will be of any consolation. No bill will come to the floor of the house that seeks to gag the press, because the press is supposed to be the voice of the people,” he said.

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“However, I hold very strongly to the view that there is press freedom and there is freedom of expression. There has always been and there will always be.

“Freedom of expression is limited to the extent that it does not affect the other person’s freedom. Freedom of expression is not absolute and that is made abundantly clear in the constitution itself.

“If you go to section 45 of your constitution, it tells you how the government is allowed to limit that freedom for the sake of health and security and this is written in black and white.

“Whilst I will not allow gagging of the press, I worry when at every time when the national assembly tries to promulgate a law with the best of intention, everybody descends on the national assembly. For some, it is immediate reaction. Some just jump on the bandwagon without knowing the details or the issues.

“I am using this press council bill as an example. I called the proponent of the bill and ask him, ‘what is going on? What have you done and what is in this bill?’ He tried to break it down. I have not read it myself and I will confess to that. But I will read it in details in the next couples of days. I just have a general idea of the content. He told me that he had a meeting with all the stakeholders. I wasn’t present at the meeting. He said what they wanted was not acceptable to him.

“Whatever provisions that are in that bill that is inimical to the operations of the press, remove it and replace it with something else so that everybody will be happy.

“From my understanding, the issue was not about gagging, but that they don’t want to be regulated. That gives me concern because it has gotten to a point in this country where nobody wants to be regulated.”

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