The Non-Governmental Organizations Regulatory Commission(Establishment) Bill, 2016, 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 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.
''The proposed controversial law seeks to amongst other things:
Establish the Non-Governmental Organisations’ Regulatory Commission. See Section 1, Part 1 of the Bill;
Maintain a register on NGOs with powers to receive audit reports, and to provide policy guidelines to NGOs on aligning their activities to the national developmental plan of the country. See Section 8, Part 2;
Regulate NGO registration: See Sections 13-14, Part 3 which cover incorporation upon compliance with registration procedure, access to facilities provided by government under the Bill to NGOs registered;
Empower the Commission’s Governing Board to refuse registration, registration validity for a period of 24 months, renewal of registration thereafter subject to periodic submission of relevant documents; effects of failure to renew registration being termination of operations, and deletion of NGO from register; and cancellation/suspension of registration. See Sections 15-18;
Issue work permits to expatriates working in NGOs. See Section 19;
Criminalise NGOs operating without certification under the Bill. For instance, Section 24(1), Part 3 – ‘It shall be an offence for any persons to operate a Non-Governmental Organisation in Nigeria for welfare, research, health relief, agriculture, education, industry, the supply of amenities, or any other similar purposes without registration and certification under this Act’;
Defines NGOs in Section 57, Part 7 ‘to be a private voluntary grouping of individuals or associations not operated for profit of for commercial purposes, but which have organised themselves nationally or internationally for the promotion of social welfare, development, charity or research through mobilisation of resources’. ''
Many Nigerians have criticised the bill, with many seeing it as a ploy to stifle civil society groups and silence critical voices in the country.