Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara said the National Assembly cannot be intimidated into abandoning its duty of providing a platform for Nigerians to agree or disagree on any proposed legislative measure.
Yakubu said this on Tuesday in his remarks at the resumption of plenary after a seven-week recess.
Reacting to the controversy surrounding the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) Bill, he said that transparency was what prompted the bill and therefore, should welcome the opportunity to interrogate the issues with open arms.
He said, “No one can nor indeed, should gag the operations of NGOs in Nigeria.
“But, just as they aspire for this freedom, it must be stated that freedom does not come without responsibility as there is no such thing as freedom to be irresponsible”.
“For the avoidance of doubt, let me state once again that churches, mosques, Esusu, market women associations as well as local quasi-financial institutions are “not NGOs’’ and thus, the bill has nothing to do with their operations”.
“Public criticism of the content of the Bill is a welcome development and there are many who are doing just that”.
“I hasten to say that all Nigerians and other corporate persons, including non-Nigerians, are stakeholders and have a right to support or oppose a Bill”.
“However, when opinions are targeted at disparaging the institution of the legislature, then it becomes imperative to interrogate the motives driving such, especially when this emanates from those who should know”.