Government urged to raise awareness on Freedom of Information Act (FOI)

 

THE Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) has been enjoined to increase efforts in creating awareness and enlightenment among public institutions and within the civil service about the superiority of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act to other laws, especially the Official Secret Act.

This was one of the recommendations of participants at a one-day workshop for grassroots and civil society organisations on the FOI Act.

The workshop, hosted by Media Rights Agenda (MRA), was organised with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through Pact Nigeria.

The participants however observed that despite the clarity of Section 1 and other provisions of the FoI Act about the supremacy of the Act over other laws, civil servants and public institutions continue to use the existence of the Official Secret Act and other such laws and guises to deny citizens their rights to information.

The participants also recommended that every public institution to which the Act applies should take advantage of new information and communication technologies to improve its record-keeping system, to make information filing and retrieval less cumbersome and also meet up with its obligation on proactive disclosure.

It was noted that the FoI Act was an important law that will be useful in assessing the performance of public officials in procurement and budget implementation among other areas.

The participants in principle agreed to engage in strict monitoring of public institutions to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Act, adding: “Civil society organisations should work together to create strong platforms for using the FoI Act and monitoring its strict implementation in order to ensure the Act achieves its objective in enthroning transparency and accountability.

Author: nmmin

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