A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT IN Essay - 4250 Words

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A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT IN

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Text Preview A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT IN NIGERIA By Ayodele Afolayan
INTRODUCTION
Freedom of information, specifically access to information held by public authorities is a fundamental element of the right to freedom of expression and vital to the proper functioning of a democracy. It is an act that makes provision for the disclosure of information held by public authorities or by persons providing services for them (Robert, 2000). This means that the act enables one sees a wide range of public information because it gives the right to ask any public body for all the information they have on any subject. According to the Media Rights Agenda (2011) This Act makes public records and information more freely available, provide for public access to public records and information, protect public records and information to the extent consistent with the public interest and the protection of personal privacy, protect serving public officers from adverse consequences for disclosing certain kinds of official information without authorization and establish procedures for the achievement of those purposes and; for related matters. In a country where Freedom of Information Act is in operation, anyone can make a request for information– there are no restrictions on your age, nationality, or where you live. You can ask for any information at all, but some information might be withheld to protect various interests which are allowed for by the Act. If this is the case, the public authority must tell you why they have withheld such information. According to Bard (2001), unless there’s a good reason, the organization must provide the information within seven (7) working days. In a democratic world, the public is expected to have access to information (particularly through the media) not only on how they are governed but also on anything that is of interest to the individual or group. This is what the Act is all about. Until recently, the right to freedom of information in Nigeria has been overlooked. While many established democracies across the world have enacted freedom of information regime, Nigeria had (before now) regarded freedom of information as a luxury only practicable in the Western World and other established democracies (Ekunno 2001). Ekunno further asserts that a culture of secrecy had become entrenched in Nigerian government and members of the public including the media are always denied access to official information, which in a democracy, they should be entitled to. This breakdown in the flow of information impairs the democratic process and slows economic and social development as citizens are unable to participate effectively in the process of government, make informed choices about who should govern them and to properly scrutinize officials to ensure corruption is avoided. Government officials themselves also fail to benefit from public input which could ease their decision making or improve their decision. Also, without accurate information on matters of public interest, citizens must rely on rumours and unconfirmed reports with the obvious danger this presents for accurate and objective reporting by the media. OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY

This study focuses on the newly passed Freedom of Information Act in Nigeria. It exposes the flaws of the Freedom of Information Act and the likelihood effects it will have on Nigerians. FREEDOM OF THE PRESS

The word press means all the media of mass communication, although the printed media, as the oldest, is treated as the exemplar in most discussions. Freedom of the Press according to Bollinger (1991) means the right to publish newspapers, magazines, and other printed materials without governmental restriction and subject only to the laws of libel, obscenity, sedition, etc. It could also mean the right to broadcast through electronic media, without prior restraints (Campbell, 1994). In summary, it is the right to confidentiality of sources, and a right to access... Show More

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