The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has vowed to ensure the killing of any bill that seeks to gag the press or erode its autonomy and independence.
Mr Gbajabiamila gave the assurance on Monday in Abuja, at a ceremony on the award of excellence and good governance, by the House of Representatives Press Corps.
The Speaker was speaking against the backdrop of national outcry against the controversial Nigeria Press Council, NPC, bill, which featured prominently on the cover of the Monday edition of most newspapers across the country.
The Speaker, who was conferred with the award of excellence in governance, said that he would never be part of that bill if it becomes clear that it intended to gag the press.
“I will not be part of any bill that will gag the press. No bill will come to the floor of the House that will seek to gag the press.
“The press is supposed to be the voice of the people. I hold strongly the view, that there should be press freedom,” Mr Gbajabiamila stated.
He however worried that there is nowhere in the world that freedom of expression was absolute, stressing that it should not affect the rights of another person.
He said that the constitution had already spelt out how the freedom of expression is guaranteed, reassuring that, “for once, I will never allow laws that will stop freedom of the press.
“Some just jumped in the bang wagon without even knowing the details. I called the proponent of the bill to tell me what is really going on. I haven’t read it in detail, but I will read it in a couple of days,” he said.
The Speaker said that he had asked the proponent of the bill to hold discussions with the stakeholders, which he said had already been done, but found out that the stakeholders were not having problems with provisions in the bill, but just did not need the bill.