MRA inducts NCMM into ‘FOI Hall of Shame’
Media Rights Agenda (MRA), yesterday, inducted the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) into its Freedom of Information (FOI) Hall of Shame, accusing it of a lawless disregard for the public’s right of access to information as well as its statutory duties and obligations under the FOI Act, 2011 over the last 10 years.
In a statement in Lagos, MRA’s Programme Director, Mr. Ayode Longe, said, “the situation with the NCMM is truly a national scandal and represents everything that is wrong with Nigeria,” adding that such “conduct by a public institution makes a mockery of the Federal Government’s claim to transparent and accountable governance and serves only to bring the government into disrepute.”
According to the statement, a commission that should be actively trying to attract tourists, historians, archaeologists, scientists, and students, amongst others, by proactively providing them with information, is operating the most abysmal information and communication practices.
The statement added that not only has its institutional website been down and inaccessible for at least several weeks now, NCMM also refused to provide information to those who have made requests for information under the FOI Act and relies on all sorts of subterfuge, including unreasonable delays, to avoid accountability.
The statement said on August 10, 2021, the Commission wrote to the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) in Abuja demanding N200,000 for it to respond to the ICIR’s FOI request for a list of projects implemented in the Commission, sponsored by Federal lawmakers between 2015 and 2020 as well as details of such projects relating to the award of the contracts, the contract sum and level of completion of the contracts.
The MRA programmes director said it took this action in order to avoid providing the Centre with the information requested as the amount demanded clearly violates the spirit of the FOI Act as well as the fees chargeable for information as stipulated by the Attorney General of the Federation.
He recalled that in 2017, when another non-governmental organisation, Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC), made a request to the commission under the FOI Act on its public finance expenditure records, it took the commission over 60 days to respond to the application, although the Act requires it to do so within seven days.
The statement said since the FOI Act came into force, “the commission has deliberately breached or disregarded every responsibility legally imposed on it by the Act as it has consistently refused to submit an annual report to the Attorney-General of the Federation for 10 years, failed to designate an FOI Desk Officer, spurned the mandatory requirement for it to proactively publish 16 categories of information; neglected to provide appropriate training for its officials on the public’s right of access to information, among other infractions.”