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MRA may sue NNPC over alleged violation of FOI Act

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Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has vowed to take legal action to compel Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to abide by the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act.NNPC was inducted into the FoI Hall of Shame on July 10, 2017 for allegedly violating the Act.

In a statement by the programme manager, Mr. Ridwan Sulaimon, yesterday, the rights group expressed worry that the board and executive management of NNPC were not ashamed of the infamous recognition.“The management of the company and the federal government have failed to take effective measures to ensure that the NNPC is transparent and accountable to Nigerians by complying with the FoI Act.

“We find it noteworthy that despite the federal government’s public and supposedly aggressive war on corruption and despite the serial indictment of the corporation and its management for untoward practices, after investigation or audit, not a single person in the NNPC is facing criminal charges for corruption. One gets the embarrassing feeling that these people are untouchable; hence they have no incentive to do better,” he said.

Sulaimon stressed that the government’s failure to act accordingly left the MRA with no option but to step in and take legal action to compel the NNPC to comply with its obligations under the FoI Act.

NNPC, he added, was assessed on its level of compliance with its obligations to provide information to members of the public on request, submit annual implementation reports to the attorney-general of the federation, proactively publish defined sets of information, train its staff and officials on the public’s right of access to information, as well as designate an FoI desk officer and publish the contact details.

“The NNPC did not make even an inch of progress in the implementation of the FoI Act over the last two years. In the eight years since the enactment, the NNPC has not submitted any annual report to the attorney-general of the federation as required by Section 29(1) of the Act, and no one has held it accountable for this arrogant and continuing breach of its statutory duty.

“The NNPC has persistently failed to comply with virtually all of its proactive disclosure obligations under Section 2(3) and (4) of the FoI Act, as it has only published one of the 16 categories of items it is required to proactively publish; and has repeatedly refused to disclose information to requesters, but has instead expended millions of naira in public funds as legal fees to lawyers to defend its corporate strategy of secrecy.”

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