Seven years after, only two MDAs and two security agencies obey FOI Act

DESPITE the passage of Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by the National Assembly seven years ago, Nigerian public and security institutions are still hoarding information relating to the procurement process, the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) reveals.

According to the 2018 FOI compliance ranking for  187 public institutions and 11 security sector organisations conducted by PPDC, only the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICR) in the public institutions category, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Police Service Commission in the security institutions category complied with the FOI Act.

The two security organisations came first and second respectively in the ranking of 12 security organisations which included the Nigerian Immigration Service, Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Defence Headquarters, Military Pension Board and National Defence College.

Others were Federal Ministry of Defence, Federal Ministry of Interior, Nigerian Prison Service and Federal Fire Service.

Speaking at the launch of the FOI ranking compliance report which was also used to commemorate the International Right To Know Day, Jonathan Ebe Lafae, Data Analyst of PPDC, explained that the ranking was based on an assessment of the level of access to procurement related information from the public institutions and security agencies.

    He said the ranking since 2014 has been used extensively for advocacy and has contributed immensely to the responsiveness of public institutions to FOI requests.

    Specifically, the Ministry of Information — the custodian of information in the country, State House, Ministries of communication, Health, Communication, Finance; National Television Authority (NTA), Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Office of the Auditor General of the Federation all ranked last among other public institutions as they could not do proactive disclosure, respond to request for information or give full disclosure of public information at their disposal.

    Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) which came first last year dropped to the fifth position, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) which came third last year also dropped to the fifth position this year.

    In the last four months, The ICIR has sent FOI requests to 11 public institutions, including INEC, Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigerian Postal Service, NIPOST among others, but only three of these institutions responded. They are the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Accountant General of the Federation and INEC.

    Head of Data Unit, International Centre For Investigative Reporting, ICIR.
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