23 November 2017

Nigeria: Hall of Shame - 21 Nigerian Institutions Criticised for 'Violating' FOI Law

Photo: Premium Times
Federal Secretariat Complex, Abuja

A host of public institutions have been publicly shamed for repeatedly failing to comply with the provisions of Freedom of Information Act.

The Media Rights Agenda published the 2017 list of 'FoI Hall of Shame' which also included some federal court judges.

More than 20 institutions and persons exhibited "an inexplicable disregard for the rights of citizens to seek and obtain information from public institutions while also demonstrating a near absolute contempt for the law," the MRA said in a statement by its programme officer, Idowu Adewale.

In many instances, the MRA found, the culprits didn't even acknowledge receipt of FoI enquiries, much less give a desired response.

PREMIUM TIMES recently published how the Attorney-General's office had complained that Nigerians have been too reluctant to make use of the FoI law, which was signed in 2011.

The law mandates public institutions to grant access and reply to request for public records, except those on national security, within a time limit of seven days. Any insufficient denial of such request by an institution or public official attracts a fine of N500,000 payable on conviction by a court.

Yet, Nigerian ministries, departments and agencies have received very few requests for information from citizens, the AGF's office found in a performance review published in October 2017.

The report said in 2014, 2015 and 2016, over 53 per cent of government agencies received "just one or no request for information in the years under review."

In 2014, 60 public institutions submitted FOI reports out of which 26 of them received no request from the public while 12 received just one request.

The remaining 22 received requests for information ranging from two to 133.

While the MRA did not dispute the findings of the AGF, the media advocacy group scolded public institutions for thwarting Nigerians who filed requests, a frustrating act that could discourage other citizens from making attempts.

Media organisations, like PREMIUM TIMES, have filed FoI requests that were repeatedly ignored by institutions. Where some public officials found it necessary to respond, the content of their reply is usually redacted to the point of rendering it inadequate.

The Tertiary Education Trust Fund is the latest institution to be shamed by MRA, which found that the agency had failed to comply with all FoI requests or even comply with requirements that its compliance records be submitted to the AGF.

The MRA said TETFund failed to submit its annual reports to the AGF on its implementation of the FoI since it was passed into law in 2011.

It has "not submitted a single report" for six years, the MRA said.

Below is a list of 21 institutions and persons that the MRA has so far listed in its 'FoI Hall of Shame.'

1. Justice Doris Okuwobi of the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja Division, 03 July 2017

2. Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC),10 July 2017

3. Ministry of Information, 17 July 2017

4. Justice Iyabo Akinkugbe of the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja Division, 24 July 2017

5. Federal Ministry of Education, 31 July 2017

6. National Assembly, 07 August 2017

7. The Presidency, 14 August 2017

8. Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), 21 August 2017

9. Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), 28 August 2017

10. Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), 5 September 2017

11.Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), 11 September 2017

12. Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), 18 September 2017

13. National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), 25 September 2017

14. Office Of The Auditor General of the Federation, 03 October 2017

15. Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) 09 October 2017

16. National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) 16 October 2017

17. Federal Civil Service Commission, 23 October 2017

18. Federal Ministry of Agriculture, 30 October 2017

19. National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), 06 November 2017

20. National Examinations Council (NECO), 13 November 2017

21. Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), 20 November 2017

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