More than 150 Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) do not actively respond to requests made through the Freedom of Information Act, checks by The ICIR have shown.
This analysis is according to a survey on ranking FOIA responses from 250 MDAs in three years, 2020 -2022.
The FOIA, signed in 2011 by former President Goodluck Jonathan, gives Nigerians the right to access information on government activities in the custody of any public institution or where public funding was utilised.
Section One, subsection (1) of the FOIA states that “Notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act, law or regulation, the right of any person to access or request information, whether or not contained in any written form, which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution howsoever described, is established.”
In several subsections, the Act highlights the process by which information should be requested, noting that public institutions must ensure that the information requested is provided. There are, however, exemptions for security agencies and provisions for delays in responses.
In cases where the FOI request would not be granted, the Act provides that the public institution from which the information is sought must send a written notice to the applicant, referencing the section of the law under denial.
Section Four states that: “Where information is applied for under this Act, the public institution to which the application is made shall, subject to sections 6, 7, and 8 of this Act, within seven days after the application is received- (a) make the information available to the applicant (b) Where the public institution considers that the application should be denied, the institution shall give written notice to the applicant that access to all or part of the information will not be granted, stating reasons for the denial, and the section of this Act under which the denial is made.”
Analysis of the data
The ranking was conducted by six organisations with a total score point of 100 based on the performances of each MDA. The ranking analysed the timeliness of responses to information and the level of disclosure of the information supplied by MDAs [sheet published here].
The rating was carried out by a coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs), including The ICIR, the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC), BudgiT, Basic Rights Watch (BRW), Right to Know (R2K) and Media Rights Agenda (MRA).
For this report, The ICIR filtered the ranking sheet by 15 points, using it as a benchmark for poor performance in MDAs. This means that MDAs who scored below 15 points in the last three years either failed to respond to the FOI requests by the organisations or responded after the deadline threshold stated in the law.
From the result, 169 MDAs out of 250 scored below 15 points in 2020. Also, in 2021 and 2022, 173 and 153 MDAs scored below 15 points, respectively.
Meanwhile, on an average [50 points], the results showed that only two MDAs scored above 50 points in 2020, three MDAs in 2021 and seven in 2022.
The data showed that while responses to FOI requests have increased relatively in the last three years, information disclosure has been minimal. The ICIR, in several reports, captured the responses of these MDAs to FOI requests.
[The sheet below shows the names of MDAs who did not respond to FOI requests sent to them by the five organisations in three years].
|1||Architects Registration Council Of Nigeria (ARCON)||Directorate Of Technical Aids Corps||Agricultural Research Council Of Nigeria|
|2||Community Health Practitioners Registration Board||Directorate Of Technical Cooperation In Africa||Border Communities Development Agency|
|3||Court Of Appeal, Nigeria||Federal Airports Authority Of Nigeria||Centre For Automotive Design And Development|
|4||Directorate Of Technical Cooperation In Africa||Federal Ministry Of Agriculture And Rural Development||Council Of Legal Education|
|5||Federal Ministry Of Defence||Federal Ministry Of Industry Trade And Investment||Librarians Registration Council Of Nigeria|
|6||Federal Staff Hospital, Abuja||Federal Ministry Of Information And Culture||National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA)|
|7||Industrial Arbitration Panel||Federal Ministry Of Transportation||National Broadcasting Commission (NBC)|
|8||Medical And Dental Council Of Nigeria||Federal Staff Hospital||Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency(PPPRA)|
|9||National Commission For Mass Literacy, Adult And Non-Formal Education||Ministry Of Police Affairs||National Council On Privatization|
|10||National Population Commission||National Broadcasting Commission (NBC)||National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)|
|11||National Primary Healthcare Development Agency||National Commission For Museums And Monuments||National Inland Waterways Authority|
|12||Nigerian Football Federation||New Partnership For Africa’s Development (NEPAD)||Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation|
|13||Office Of The National Security Adviser (ONSA)||Nigerian Football Federation||Nigeria Security And Civil Defence Corps|
|14||Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency(pppra)||Office Of The Permanent Representative To The Fao (food &agricultural Organisation)||Nigerian Football Federation|
|15||Surveyor Council Of Nigeria||Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA)|
|16||Council Of Legal Education||Nigerian Television Authority|
|17||Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC)|
|18||Office Of The Auditor General Of The Federation (OAGF)|
|19||Office Of The Chief Economic Adviser To The President|
|20||Office Of The Permanent Representative To The Food & Agricultural Organisation (FAO)|
|21||Petroleum Equalisation Fund (Management Board)|
|22||Federal Ministry Of Aviation|
|23||Consolidated Revenue Fund|
|25||Utilities Charges Commission|
|26||Veterinary Council Of Nigeria|
|27||Defence Industries Corporation Of Nigeria (DICON)|
Meanwhile, the programme Officer of Right to Know, Victoria Etim, said that the Act is an effective tool in public space, which creates the basics for inclusion.
She said of the findings, “This will provide a means to properly operationalise the Act within the public service, leading to greater compliance by these institutions because, as we know, the service rules provide for the operational framework, the regulatory principles and duties of all public servants amongst other things.”
***Data analysis done by Glory Osho