A non-governmental organization, the Public and Private Development Centre, PPDC, has asked the National Assembly to sanction the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development for “deliberately trying the frustrate the effectiveness of the Freedom of Information Act through prohibitive charges”.
In a petition, addressed to both chambers of the Assemblyand the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, the PPDC said the ministry was asking it to pay N65,000 to access information it requested under the FOI Act, contrary to the Schedule of Fees prescribed by the Attorney-General of the Federation.
Spokesperson for the organization, SeemberNyager, also alleged that the ministry was resorting to this tactic in order to prevent it and its procurement monitors from monitoring its contracting processes in accordance with the Public Procurement Act, 2007
The group further alleged that when it offered to inspect the relevant records, which would not require the ministry making copies for it, it insisted that it must first pay N65,000.
The PPDC has therefore called on the National Assembly to wade into the matter and put an end to such acts of impunity and disregard for the law, saying: “unless this was done, other public institutions could gradually adopt similar tactics to frustrate the efforts of the National Assembly and the President to ensure transparency in public institutions”.
The petition, copied to President Goodluck Jonathan and the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Procurement, relies on the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2011 which seeks to make public records more freely available to citizens.
The Public and Private Development Centre is a citizen sector organization established to increase citizen participation in governance and development in a way that improves the integrity of public and private sector governance processes particularly through procurement monitoring.