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FG plans entrenchment of FOI Act, moves to train judges, public officials


In its resolve to provide insight and enlighten stakeholders on application of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, the Federal Government has concluded plans to commence training for judicial and public officials involved in its implementation.

The need is also in reference to section 13 of the Act, which took several years to be passed at the National Assembly and signed into law in 2011 by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Head, FoI Unit at the Federal Ministry of Justice and Co-Chair, Access to Information Work Group, Open Government Partnership, Nigeria Process, Benjamin Ogu Okolo, disclosed this yesterday during an Assessment and level of Compliance Roundtable jointly organised by the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC), British Council and the European Union (EU) in Abuja.

Responding to issues raised on the matter by the organisers, Executive Director, Media Initiative Against Injustice, Violence and Corruption, Dr. Walter Duru and an official of the FoI Act, Dala Pwanakei, Okolo said training was essential for effective implementation of Section 13 of the Act, which provides for mandatory training of public officials on the public right to access public information and records.

“In line with the mandate of the Federal Ministry of Justice, as the focal ministry on the implementation of the Act, the FoI Unit has developed a curriculum for the training of public officials.

“FoI Unit and the Open Government Partnership (OGP) secretariat has been involved in training of public institutions and civil society organisations (CSOs) on citizens rights to access public information. Members of the public are encouraged to take advantage of the FoI regime to enhance public participation in governance.”

Okolo added that training of judges on the Act was necessary because of their role in adjudicating cases, adding: “The training process will involve all entities covered by the Act including the judiciary, judges role, executive and legislature, among others.He, however, stressed that budgetary allocations for the smooth running of the issues related to implementation of the Act wase key rather than view it as a budget to fight cases against the government, noting that some cases relating to the Act were isolated and settled.

Speaking earlier, Duru and Dala argued that the issue of assessment of compliance to the Act needed to be ascertained to know the level of its implementation, adding this would enable stakeholders to know how to go about it when there are litigations against it.

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Benjamin Ogu OkoloFOI Act
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