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Group knocks ministry of information over FOI implementation

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Media Right Agenda (MRA) has described the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture’s performance of its duties and obligations under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act as appalling. 

According to the group, the ministry has failed to implement the FOI Act, 2011 over the last nine years. Its Programme Director, Mr. Ayode Longe, said it is a national embarrassment, the inability of the Ministry charged with leading and coordinating the country’s public communications to put in place the most basic institutional structures and mechanisms for providing members of the public with information, as required by the FOI Act.

“Whether motivated by an arrogant disregard for the FOI Act, institution-wide ignorance or sheer incompetence, this scandalous failure or inability of the Ministry to comply with its duties and obligations under the Act over the last nine years has further served to rob it of essential credibility in speaking on behalf of the federal government of Nigeria or in leading and coordinating its public communications,” they said in a statement endorsed by Longe. 

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The group explained that the Ministry was inducted into the enhanced FOI Hall of Shame for a long list of transgressions under the FOI Act, including failing to publish the title and contact details of an appropriate official to receive requests for information from members of the public as required by the FOI Act and the Implementation Guidelines issued by the Attorney-General of the Federation.

Others include refusing to perform its proactive publications obligations under Section 2(3), (4) and (5) of the FOI Act.

According to MRA, other acts of non-compliance by the Ministry include failing to provide appropriate training for its officials on the public’s right of access to information held by the Ministry to ensure the effective implementation of the Act as required by Section 13 of the Act and refusing to disclose information to members of the public seeking information from it under the FOI Act.

It also includes persistently failing to submit its annual reports on its implementation of the Act to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as required by Section 29 of the Act and AGF’s FOI Implementation Guidelines.

They noted that there is no indication that the Ministry has provided appropriate training for its officials on the public’s right of access to information and for the effective implementation of the Act, as it is obliged to do under Section 13 of the FOI Act. MRA pledged that they would institute legal proceedings against the Ministry in the appropriate court to compel it to implement the Act.

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Ayode LongeFOIMRA
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