A Bill for an Act to Provide for the repeal of the Nigerian Press Council Act, 1992, and establish the Nigerian Press and Practice of Journalism Council, to provide high profession standards for the Nigerian Press and deal with complaints emanating from members of the public about the conduct of journalists and media houses in their professional capacity, or complaints emanating from the press about the conduct of persons, organisations or institutions of government towards the press and for other matters connected therein.
Sponsored by Hon. Abike Dabiri
Be it enacted by the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as follows:
Part 1 – Establishment of the Nigerian Press and Practice of Journalism Council (NPPJC)
1.There is hereby established a body to be known as the Nigerian Press and Practice of Journalism Council (in this Act referred to as “the council of Journalism”) which shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal and may sue and be sued in its corporate name.
2 (1) The Council of Journalism shall consist a chairman and the following other members, that is-
(a) four representatives of the Nigerian Union of Journalists;
(b) two representatives of the Nigerian Guild of Editors;
(c) two representatives of the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria who shall be practising journalist;
(d) four representatives of the general public; one of whom shall be a legal practitioner and one woman;
(e) one representative of education institutions involved in the training of journalists
(f) one representative of the Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation who shall be a practising journalists
(g) two representatives of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria;
(h) one representative of the News Agency of Nigeria, who shall be a practising journalists; and
(i) Executive Secretary of the Council of Journalism
(2) The chairman of the Council of Journalism shall be appointed by the president, on the recommendation of the minister, after due consideration of the submission of the Nigerian Press Organisation and shall be a person -
(a) of high intellectual and moral qualities and knowledge about the press and public affairs; and
(b) With not less than twenty years experience as a journalist
(3) The members of the Council of Journalism appointed under the paragraphs (d) and (f) of subsection (l) of this section shall be appointed by the Minister and members of the Council appointed under paragraph (a), (b), (c), (e), (g) and (f) of the said subsection shall be appointed by the Minister after an election by or on the nomination of the union, association of other body concerned.
(4) The supplementary provisions set out in the First Schedule to this Act shall have effect with respect to the tenure of office and proceedings of the Council and the other matters contained therein.
(3) The Council shall be charged with the duty of -
(a) enquiring into complaints about the conduct of the press and the conduct of any person or organisation towards the press and exercising in respect of the complaints the powers conferred upon it under this Act;
(b) monitoring the activities of the press with a view to ensuring compliance with the code of Professional and ethical conduct as provided for in this Act;
(c) receiving application form, and documenting the print media and monitoring their performance to ensure that owners and publishers comply with the terms of their mission statements and objectives in liaison with the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria;
(d) researching into contemporary press development and engaging in updating press documentation
(e) fostering the achievement and maintaining of high professional standards by the press;
(f) reviewing developments likely to restrict the supply through the press, of information of public interest and importance of which are liable to prevent free access of the press to information and advising on measures necessary to prevent or remedy such development;
(g) ensuring the protection of the rights and privileges of journalists in the lawful performance of their professional duties
4 (1) There shall be appointed for the Council of Journalism an Executive Secretary by the President; on the recommendation of the Minister
(2) The executive secretary shall -
(a) be a journalist with at least 15 years post qualification experience and shall have held high journalist positions;
(b) be the chief executive of the Council;
(c) be responsible for the execution of the policy of the Council and of its day-to-day administration;
(d) in addition to the functions expressly conferred on him by this Act; perform such other functions as the Council may, from time to time, direct;
(e) hold office on such terms as to emolument and otherwise, as may be specified in his letter of appointment and may, from time to time, be approved by the president;
(f) subject to this, the executive secretary shall hold office for a term of four years in the first instance and may be eligible for reappointment for a further term of four years;
(g) the executive secretary may be removed from office on the recommendation of the Minister for inability to discharge the functions of his office arising from infirmity of mind of body or from other cause.
5 (1) The Council may appoint other employees as it may consider necessary for the efficient performance of the Council’s duties under this Act
(2) The terms of service (include terms and conditions as to remuneration; allowances; retiring benefits and discipline) of the secretary and other employees of the Council shall be such as may be determined, from time to time, by the Council
(3) In carrying out the functions for which the Council is established under this Act, the Council shall be autonomous and shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other authority or person except as provided in this Act
6 (1) Service in the Council shall be approved service for purpose of the Pension Act
(2) Employees of the Council shall be entitled to pension, gratuities and any other retirement benefits as are enjoyed by persons holding equivalent grades in the civil service of the Federation
(3) Nothing in subsection (1) or (2) of this section shall prevent the appointment of a person to any office on terms which preclude the grant of pensions and gratuity in respect of that office -
(4) For the purpose of the application of the provisions of the Pension Act, any power exercisable thereunder by a Minister or authority of the Government of the Federation, other than the power to make regulations under section 29 thereof is hereby vested in and shall be exercisableby the Council other than any other person or authority
7 Without prejudice to the provisions of sections 6 of this Act, the terms and conditions of service including terms and conditions of remunerations, allowance, retirement and other benefits of the staff and other employees of the council shall be as may be determined by the Council with the approval of the Minister
Part II Power the Council of Journalism
8. In carrying out the functions for which the Council is established under this Act, the Council shall be autonomous and shall not be subject to the direction of control of any other authority or person except as provided in this Act.
9 (1) The Nigerian Union of Journalists shall provide a code of Professional and Ethnial Conduct to guide the press and journalists in the performance of their duties
(2) The Nigerian Union of Journalists shall cause a revision of such a code of Professional and Ethical Conduct as deemed appropriate from time to time to conform with media practices
(3) The Council shall, after due consideration, approve the code of professional and Ethical conduct by the Nigerian Union of Journalists and ensure compliance
(4) The Council shall cause to be published in the Nigeria Press and Practice of Journalism Council Journal, the code of Professional and Ethical Conduct as approved under subsection (3) of this subsection which shall be binding on every journalist in Nigeria
10 Every member of the council shall be required on assuming office, to subscribe to an oath that he shall faithfully and impartially and to the best of his ability, discharge his duties with respect to any inquiry conducted by the Council under this Act, and if the inquiry is not held in public, that he shall not divulge the proceedings, the vote or opinion of the members or any other matter relevant to the inquiry.
11 (1) Subject to the provisions of this Act the Council shall, following complaints lodged before it by any person, have the power to -
(a) inquiry into and examine all such witness as the Council may deem it fi;
(b) without prejudice to provisions of the code of Professional and Ethical Conduct, summon any person in Nigeria to attend any meeting of the Council to give evidence and to examine him as a witness in the case of journalists;
(c) consider and deal with any matter referred to it in the absence of any party who has been duty summoned to appear before it;
(d) admit any evidence, whether written or oral and act on evidence, whether written or oral;
(e) appoint any person to act as a interpreter in any matter brought before it;
(f) generally give all such directions and do all such things as are necessary or expedient for dealing speedily and justly with any matter referred to it from time to time
(2) Summons issued under subection 1) (b) of this section shall be in the form set out in Second Schedule to this Act and shall be served by such persons as the Council may direct/
12 The Chairman shall have power to issue on behalf of the Council all summons and appoint such number of interpreters as may be required under this Act, either before or during the inquiry until the final determinations.
13 Any interpreter appointed under section 12 of this Act shall before assuming office, subscribe before the Council, to the oath specified in the Third Schedule to this Act.
14 The chairman shall have power to issue on behalf of the Council all summons and appoint such number of interpreters as may be required under this Act, either before or during the inquiry of witness and interpreters.
Witnesses and interpreters and any other persons attending the inquiry at the request of the Councillor upon summons, shall be paid such sums, allowances or expenses, as the case may be, as the Council may, from time to time, direct and such payments shall be defrayed from the funds of the Council.
15 No member shall be liable for any act done or omitted to be done in the performance of his duties under or pursuant to this Act. Provided such act or commission is not inimical to Justice, Equity and the interests of the general public.
16 – (1) Complaints shall come to the Council by way of Appeal arising from the decision of the Media Practitioner Complaint Commission.
(2) Any person aggrieved —
(a) by anything published in respect of him in any medium of information; or
(b) by anything done in respect of him by any journalist in his capacity as a journalist; or
(c) by anything done against the journalist that is capable of limiting the preservation of the freedom of the Press guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, may make a complaint in respect thereof, in writing, addressed to the Council.
(3) If the Council is satisfied that the performance of the press is not consistent with the provisions of the Code of Professional and Ethical Conduct, the executive secretary shall, in accordance with such general directions as may be given by the Council, lay before the Council all appeals made under subsection (1) of this section.
17 – (1) where, after inquiring into a complaint under section 16 of this Act, the Council is satisfied that-
(a) the subject matter in respect of which the complaint was made, was not in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Professional and Ethical Conduct:
referred to in paragraph (a) of this subsection;
(c) the conduct of a journalist or person is, ill the circumstances of the case blameworthy.
(2) The Council may, where appropriate, direct the medium of information or cause the person concerned to publish, in such manner as the Council may direct, a suitable apology or correction, and may in addition reprimand the Journalist or person concerned in the matters or uphold the decision of the Media Practitioner Complaint Commission or as the case may be.
(3) Where the medium of information or the journalist so sanctioned in accordance with subsection (1) of this section does not comply with the Council’s decisions, the medium or journalist is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction –
(a) in the case of a body corporate to a fine of N100,000; and
(B) in the case of a journalist of a fine of N50,000 and the Council shall order the suspension of the journalist or Media House from practice for a period not exceeding six months.
4) Where there is persistent refusal to comply with the directives of the Council, the medium or journalist so sanctioned in accordance with subsection (1) of this section, commits of an offence and is liable on conviction –
(a) in the case of a body corporate to a fine of N500,000; and
(b) in the case of a journalist to a fine of N100,000.
(5) The Council may cause to be published in the Press Journal and in such other manner as the Council may deem fit the name of any journalist reprimanded by the Council under subsection (1) of this section.
18.– (1) Subject to rules made under this Act, a person shall be entitled to be fully registered under this Act if–
(a) he has attended a course of training recognised by the Council so acquired, with the cognate experience recognised by the Council; or
(b) the course was conducted at an institution so approved, or partly at one such institution and partly at another or others; or
(c) he holds a qualification so approved; or
(d) he holds a certificate of experience issued in pursuance of section 24 of this Act.
(e) he has a general professional orientation which covers the basic requirements of information art, leading to a qualification not less than a diploma; and
(f) he has a good knowledge of the politics and socioeconomic affairs of his society acquired from an approved institution.
19-(1) It shall be the duty of the executive secretary to maintain a register of a accredited journalists and News Agents compiled by the Council in collaboration with the Nigeria Union of Journalists and the Nigerian Guild of Editors.
(2) The register referred to in subsection (1) of this section shall (without prejudice to any other mode of proof) be admissible in any proceedings as evidence that any person specified in the document or the documents read together is registered or was so registered and that any person not so specified was authorised.
(3) where in accordance with subsection (2) of this section a person is in any proceedings shown to have been or not to have been so registered at a particular date with the Council he shall, unless the contrary is proved, be taken for the purpose of those proceedings as having at all material times thereafter continued to be or not be so registered.
PART III — OWNERSHIP OF THE PRESS AND THE MEDIA
20. Ownership of media establishment shall be in accordance with section 39 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
21. Every Nigerian citizen or corporate body authorised by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, on the fulfillment of such conditions as had been laid down by the National Assembly, shall have the right to own, establish or operate a television or own, establish or operate a television or wireless broadcasting station for educating, entertaining and informing the citizenry.
22. The right of the Government of the Federation or of a State to own, establish or operate a television or wireless broadcasting station shall be exercised in the interest of the Generality of the peoples of the Federation or of the State, as the case may be, and such right shall not be exercise to the detriment of the privately owned media journalist.
PART IV — FREEDOM OF JOURNALISTS TO PRACTICE THEIR PROFESSION
23. The freedom of the press as established by section 39 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is hereby further guaranteed.
24. No journalist shall be arbitrarily arrested, detained, prosecuted or punished for his published views and opinions, and;
25. Notwithstanding the provisions in paragraph 8 (d) of the Third Schedule of the NBC Act No. 38 of 1992 (as amended), paragraph184.108.40.206 (c) of the NBC Code, no media establishment shall be arbitrarily closed down, scaled up or practice licence revoked for publishing an opinion or information, except in accordance with the provisions of this bill or in accordance with any other bill enacted by the National Assembly, or in the due process of application of the procedure relating to a breach of an existing law in Nigeria.
PART V — QUALIFICATION TO PRACTICE AS A JOURNALIST
26. A person shall not practice as a Journalist in Nigeria unless —
(a) he has passed the qualifying examinations as approved by the Nigerian Press and Practice of Journalism Council
(b) he is a registered member of the Nigerian Union of Journalists;
(c) he is employed as an editorial staff (that is, Reporter, Editor, Sub-Editor, Features Writer, Leader Writer, Proof Reader, Photo Journalist, TV Engineering, Cameraman, Cartoonist, Information Officer in State or Federal Ministries of Information, or Local Government Information Officer, or Newscaster attached to News and Current Affairs Department) in a media establishment recognised by law;
(d) possess either a Higher National Diploma (HND) or a Degree or their equivalent in Journalism or Mass Communication obtained from recognised institutions.
(c) he has qualifications in other disciplines from a recognised institution and has passed the prescribed professional examination of the Nigeria Union of Journalist; or
27. – (1) The Press and Practice of Journalism Council in conjunction with the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), The Nigerian Institute of Journalism and the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) shall establish a National Examination and Accreditation Board to conduct examination for would-be journalists or graduates of Mass Communications in Nigeria in the Nigeria Institute of Journalism.
(2) The following body shall form the National Examination and Accreditation Board NEAB)—
(a) 3 representatives of the Nigerian Press and Practice of Journalism Council
(b) 2 representatives of the Nigeria Union of Journalists
(c) 2 representatives of the Newspapers Proprietors of Nigeria
(d) 2 representatives of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria
(e) 2 representatives of the Nigerian Guilds of Editors.
(3) The National Examination and Accreditation Board shall make rules guiding the conduct of the students and the general academic activities of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism.
(4) the Nigerian Institute of Journalism shall organise a one-year professional programme for the training of graduate of journalism.
(5) The Nigeria Press and practice of Journalism Council shall establish Journalists Registration Board which shall among other activities, issue certificate of practice to every registered journalist in Nigeria.
28. Subject to subsection (2) of this section, the Council may approve for the purpose of Section 20 of this Act—
(a) a course of training which is intended for persons who are seeking to become or are journalists and which the Council considers is designed to confer on persons completing it, sufficient knowledge and skill for the practice as members of the profession;
(b) any institution either in Nigeria, or elsewhere, which the Council considers is properly the whole or any part of a course of training approved by the Council under this section; and
(c) any qualification which, as a result of an examination take in conjunction with the course of training approved by the Council under this section, is granted to candidates reaching a standard at the examination indicating, in the opinion of the Council that they have sufficient knowledge and skill to practice journalism as a profession.
(2) The Council shall from time to time, publish in the Federal Gazette a list of qualifications in the profession of journalism approved by it, and subject thereto, the Council shall not approved for the purposes of subsection (1) of this section a qualification granted by an institution Nigeria, unless the qualification has been so published by the Council.
(3) The Council may, if it thinks fit, withdraw any approval given under this section of this Act in respect of course, qualification or institution; but before withdrawing such an approval the Council shall —
(a) give notice that it proposes to do so to persons in Nigeria appearing to the Council to be persons by whom the course is conducted or the qualification is granted or the institution is controlled, as the case may be; and
(b) afford each such person an opportunity of making to the Council representation with regard to the proposals; and
(c) talk into consideration any representation made as respects the proposal to withdraw the approval.
(4) As respects any period during which the approval of the Council under this section for a course, institution or qualification is withdrawn, the course, or qualification or institution shall not be treated as approved under this section; but the withdrawal of such an approval shall not prejudice the registration or eligibility for registration of any person who by virtue of the approval was registered or was eligible for registration (either) unconditionally or subject to the obtaining a certificate or experience) immediately before the approval was withdrawn.
(5) The giving or withdrawal of an approval under this section of this Act, shall have effect from such date after execution of the instrument signifying the giving or withdrawal of the approval, as the Council may specify in that instrument and the Council shall—
(a) as soon as possible, publish a copy of every such instrument in the Federal Gazette and
(b) not later than seven days before its publication as aforesaid, send a copy of the instrument to the Minister.
29. — (1) it shall be the duty of the Council to keep itself informed of the nature of—
(a) the instruction given at approved institutions to persons attending approved courses of training;
(b) the examinations, as a result of which approved qualifications are granted, and for the purposes of performing that duty, the Council may appoint, either from among its own members of otherwise, person to visit approved institution or to attend such examinations.
(2) It shall be the duty of a person appointed under subsection (1) of this section, to report to the Council on —
(a) the adequacy of the instruction given to person attending such approved courses of training at institutions visited by him;
(b) the adequacy or otherwise of the examinations attended by him; and
(c) any other matter relating to the institutions or examination on which the Council may, either generally or in a particular case, request him to report:
Provided that the person shall not interfere with the giving of any instruction or the holding of any examinations.
(3) Our receiving a report made in pursuance of this section of this Act the Council shall, as soon as may be send a copy of the report to the person appearing to the Council to be in charge of this institution or responsible for the examinations to which the report relates requesting that person to make representations to the Council within such period as may be specified in the request, not being less than one month beginning with the date of the request.
30. — (1) A person who after obtaining an approved qualification, satisfies the conditions specified in subsection (2) of this section shall be entitled to receive free of charge a certificate of experience in the prescribed for from the person in charge of the institution.
(2)The conditions referred to in subsection (1) of this section are that—
(a) he shall have served his time for employment, the prescribed period in Nigeria with a view to obtaining a certificate of experience; or
(b) He shall have acquired during his employment practical experience under the personal supervision and guidance of one more registered journalists for such periods as may be prescribed.
(c) the manner in which he carried out the duties of is employment and —————————the period of his employment shall have been satisfactory.
(3( it shall be the duty of the employer, being a registered journalist supervising the training of the person employed with a view to obtaining a certificate of experience, to ensure that the person is afforded proper opportunities of acquiring the practical experience required for the purposes to paragraph (b)of subsection (2) of this section.
(4) Whereafter having served his time as referred to in paragraph (c) of subsection (2) of this section, a person is refused certificate of experience, he shall be entitled—
(a) to receive from his employer particulars in writing of the grounds of the refusal; and
(b) to appeal against the refusal to a committee of the Council in accordance with rules made by the Council in that behalf (including rules as to the time within which appeals are to be brought) and on any such appeal the committee of the Council shall have power to either discuss the appeal or itself issue the certificate of experience in question or give such other direction on the matter as it considers just.
(5) The Minister may made regulations for the issuance of certificates of experience in respect of employment and Institutions outsider Nigeria.
31. The council may cause to be published in the Press Journal and in such other manner as the Council may deem fit the name of any journalist or person reprimanded by the Council in the exercise of its power under this Act.
32. The Council may publish its journal and books, to publicise its activities and the result of its findings on adjudication and such other matters which relate to the development of mass media in Nigeria.
PART VI — APPOINTMENT AS EDITOR
33.— (1) A person shall be qualified for appointment as Editor in a newspaper or media establishment if –
(a) he had attained the age of 25 years;
(b) he is a registered member of the Nigerian Union of Journalists; and
(c) he has, for a period of not less than ten years served as a reporter or acquired working experience as a journalist in a reputable newspaper house, electronic news medium of news agency.
(2) Nothing in subsection (1) of this section shall be —————————–to include working experience, employment in a house journal, newsletter or any similar publications.
34. Any media establishment that appoints any journalist without the appropriate Qualifications as editor shall be guilty of an offence of professional misconduct, and the matter shall be referred to the Nigerian Press and Practice of Journalism Council who shall proceed on the matter in accordance with Part IX of this Act.
PART VII — CONDITIONS OF SERVICE
35. In order to ensure the independence, objectivity, impartiality and transparency of journalists, they shall be placed on salaries, allowances, pensions and general conditions of service at least not less than 20 per cent above those paid to staff in Federal and State Government parastatals and private companies as the case may be.
36. Any media establishment that covers at least two-thirds of the country shall pay their workers not less than 120 percent above the rates of salary, pensions, allowance, etc. which obtain at the Federal level, shall pay their workers not less than 20 per cent above the rates, pensions and allowances, etc. which operate at the State level. Allowances may however differ to accommodate peculiar needs.
37. The conditions of Service of Journalist including salaries, allowances, leave, general and retirement benefits, etc. shall be negotiated collectively and as necessary between the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), and the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON).
38. Every registered journalist shall be given an insurance certificate taken out on his behalf by the employers with reputable Insurance Company.
39. The agreed Conditions of Service shall be published in the Federal Gazette, and made available to every journalist and media establishment.
40. The —————————————–applicable salaries, allowances and conditions of service, shall be an offence under this Bill and shall be reported by the Nigeria Union of Journalists to the Nigerian Press
Courtesy: Vanguard Newspapers