Dr Chidi Odinkalu, a Civil Rights Activist, has cautioned the National Assembly against the passage of the bill seeking to regulate activities of Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) in the country.
Odinkalu, an Abuja based lawyer, and a former Chairman, Governing Council of National Human Rights Commission made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
He expressed fears that the bill, if passed would affect the rights of the people.
“This bill basically seeks to bring all of the Nigerian Civil Societies, NGOs and organisations that are not funded by government under state control.
“It means we no more own our country, we can’t organise in our neighbourhood those little things we do to help ourselves or any form of community development, the state will intrude into those little things,” Odinkalu said.
He said that the bill was proposed on the premise that some leaders of NGOs were misappropriating resources.
“Civil societies, churches and mosque they all have people who are not living up to standard.
“And there is no where we say stealing is right whether by a Pastor or Imam or an executive director masquerading as the saviour of the people.
“We have enough laws to deal with it, prosecute the persons, put them away and throw away the keys.
“We are not going to surrender our citizenship on the excuse that somehow, some people are thieves.
“If that is the case, then there should be no politician in the National Assembly because we know that some politicians do steal money too.
“So what do we do, legislate all politicians out of existence, that is why we are telling the politicians that this country belongs to us all so that the politicians will get it right,’’ he said.
The lawyer advised that the bill be thrown out “and let’s make the country work by applying the existing laws properly.’’