By Dipo Olowookere
No fewer than two hundred Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) met in Abuja and Enugu this week to discuss the increased use of Freedom of Information (FOI) Act in Nigeria.
At the two-day roundtable event, put together by the Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption (MIIVOC), in collaboration with the Freedom of Information Coalition-Nigeria, with support from Justice For All (DFID) it was agreed that much needed to be done to keep increasing citizens’ usage of the FOI Act.
While participants from the northern part of Nigeria met in Abuja, those from the southern part of the country converged in Enugu for the purpose.
According to Chairman, Board of Governors, Freedom of Information Coalition, Nigeria, Dr Walter Duru, “Nigeria’s Freedom of Information (FOI) Act was signed into law on May 28 2011, after the longest legislative debate in the history of Nigeria. The law was passed to enable the public to access information from government and its institutions, in order to ensure transparency and accountability.
“The FOI Act aims to make public records and information more freely available. It enables citizens to hold the government accountable in the event of the misappropriation of public funds or failure to deliver public services.
“It also seeks to protect serving public officers against any adverse consequences from the disclosure of certain kinds of official information, and to establish procedures for the achievement of these purposes.
“Available statistics show that there is an extremely low usage of the Act in Nigeria by the citizens, especially, Media and Civil Society practitioners.”
It would be recalled that recently, MIIVOC, with support from Justice for All (J4A/DFID) held a 2-day Roundtable for FOI desk officers in Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government.
No fewer than 150 MDAs were in attendance at the event held at Olusegun Obasanjo Auditorium, Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja.
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