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Six years after, only two Nigerian security institutions obey FOI Act

Seember Nyager

Despite the passage of Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by the National Assembly six years ago, Nigerian security institutions are still hoarding information relating to procurement process, the Public and Private Development Center (PPDC) has said.

According to the 2017 FOI compliance ranking for security sector organisations conducted by PPDC, only the Police Service Commission and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) complied with the FOI Act, 2011 benchmarks.

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, Defence Intelligence Agency and National Defence College,

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

Speaking at the third edition of the ranking, Seember Nyager, Executive Director of PPDC, explained that the ranking was based on an assessment of levels of access to procurement related information from the 12 security sector institutions.

She 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, information on procurement plans, procurement processes and capital expenditure was sought,” she said.

“The FOI rankings build on two previous editions of annual rankings. This is the aim of the rankings; that procurement related information would be liberated and made as coherent as possible; and in a way that enables increased efficiency in public service delivery.”

The institutions were ranked based on benchmarks for disclosure within the Nigerian FOI Act, 2011; which are proactive disclosure, responsiveness to requests for information and level of disclosure to requests for information.

Based on proactive disclosure which is further divided into full proactive disclosure, partial proactive disclosure and no proactive disclosure, none of the institutions were proactive in disclosure of procurement information.

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Nyager explained that proactive disclosure is obtained where information on the procurement plans and capital expenditure of a public institution is found on their website. Based on this, an institution scores 22 points for full proactive disclosure, 17 points for partial disclosure and no point for no disclosure.

She said: “Where a part of this information is found, partial disclosure applied. Where there is no disclosure of procurement related information on the website of the public institution, there is no proactive disclosure.”

While noting that where there is no full proactive disclosure, she said, “request for information is made”, and responsiveness to request for information is ranked based on response within seven days which scores 20 points, response within 14 days which attracts 15points, response within 15 days which scores 10 points and no response which attracts no point.

On the level of disclosure to requests for information, an institution score 22 points for full disclosure, 17 points for partial disclosure and no point for no disclosure.

In the public institutions category, 163 of the 166 institutions assessed were not complying with the FOI Act, 2011 requirement for disclosure of procurement plans, processes and public expenditure.

Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) which came first last year retained the position, while Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) came second and third respectively.

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