The National Conference has proposed to revoke accreditation granted media houses that published what it considers as, “unfair and offensive” report.
This is stated under Order 14-Miscellaneous of the National Conference Procedure Rules 2014 released to delegates on Thursday.
The rules says, “The Conference may grant approval to the representative of any media to attend the sitting of the Conference provided that if the media publishes a report of the proceedings which the Conference considers unfair, offensive and not a true reflection of what transpired, such permission may be revoked.”
The Conference Assistant Secretary, Communications, Mr. james Akpandem had at the inaugural sitting asked delegates to lodge complain of wrong reporting against any media house at the secretariat.
Chapter 2, Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution states, “The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this Chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.
Menahwile, Lagos lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) has expressed fears that the National Conference Procedure Rules 2014 may serve as impediment to its success.
In an interview with our correspondent, Ozekhome who promised to commit his allowances to his charity foundation faulted certain provisions of the rules.
Specifically, he said Order 11 of the rules which provides that, “in case of failure to reach a resolution on the matter by consensus, it shall be decided by vote of three quarter majority” was an aberration.
According to him, considering the different matters like regional federation, fiscal federalism, state police, total resource control, parliamentarian system of government fiscal federalism, that are on top of the agenda of the conference, it would be difficult to achieve a three quarter majority.
“It would be practically impossible to get any consensus on any issue. Just in the same way it would be practically impossible to get people to vote to support an issue.
“In all these sensitive matters, can we get up to 75 percent or three quarter of delegates voting for an issue; I do not know.
“We may end up enthroning minority. If 74 percent voted for an issue and 26 voted against, it means that 74 percent has failed to cross hurdle. It means the 26 percent will carry the day,” he said.
Instead, Ozekhome advocated for a simple majority or two-third majority vote.
He also disagreed on the Order 13 which provides that, “Should the final report lead to the drafting of issues of law and policy, the Conference shall in consultation with the six Principal Officers of the Conference advise the government on the legal framework, legal procedures and options for integrating the decisions and outcomes of the National Conference into the Consultation and laws of the Country.”
Ozekhome said the provision was contrary to inaugural speech of President Goodluck Jonathan who said the decision of the conference could be subjected to a referendum.
He argued that, “Sovereignty belongs to the people. We are representing the people. Whatever we arrive at the end of the day should be taken back to the people for plebiscite or referendum, not to the National Assembly because they will kill it.
He also disagreed with Order nine which states that, “At plenary sessions each representative body shall speak through a delegate nominated by the representative body through its leadership.”
He said, “I do not see why three nominees of a state have to speak through one person. They are representing different interests even though they are from the same state. It could be their ethnic group; it could be their local government interest.”
In its rules, the Conference also barred delegates from assaulting or obstructing one another within the Conference Room or precincts of the Conference.
It also warned delegates from assaulting or obstructing any officer of the Conference while in the execution of his duty.
The rules said any delegate found wanting risks suspension for a maximum of 14 days.
The rules provide that “No portion of these rules shall be suspended except by a vote of two-third majority of the delegates sitting and voting at the particular time.”
It said representative bodies shall speak in alphabetical order while a delegate shall not read his speech unless he is moving a motion.
“A delegate may only read short extracts from books or papers in support of his argument and may refresh his memory by reference to notes.”