A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT IN NIGERIA By Ayodele Afolayan
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...
...undermines the Act. This has been used only twice: the first time to stop publication of minutes of cabinet meetings relating to the invasion of Iraq and the second to stop publication of cabinet meetings relating to discussions regarding devolution.
Companies owned by one public authority are generally subject to the Act but companies owned by two or more public authorities are not coveredHYPERLINK \l "cite_note-11"
 Facts revealed by the act
Facts that have been brought to light by this Act include:
The Government agreed to a £1.5 million bailout of one of the most troubled schools in its flagship academies programme ten days before the 2005 general election
Ministers and MPs claimed thousands of pounds on taxis as part of £5.9 million in expenses for travel
Foreign diplomats – who have diplomatic immunity – were accused of rapes, sexual assaults, child abuse and murders while working in Britain
Seventy-four police officers serving with the Metropolitan Police have criminal records
A clandestine British torture programme existed in post-war Germany, “reminiscent of the concentration camps”
The UK supported the Israeli nuclear weapons program, by selling Israel 20 tonnes of heavy water in 1958.
The NHS has made available Implanon implants to girls from the age of 13 in an attempt to cut teenage pregnancies
 Amendment bill
...government’s efforts to combat international terrorism and to protect the homeland. This effort is the full body scans now being used for airport security. These efforts combat terrorism have brought the issue of privacy verses national security to the forefront. The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA) currently up for reauthorization in Congress is an excellent example of another implementation of this debate. Some members of Congress argue that the bill does not do enough to protect privacy however, when looking over the provisions and history of the FAA there should be no debate about its ability to effectively gather valuable information while appropriately respecting privacy interests. The FAA should be reauthorized because it helps to collect valuable intelligence regarding national security, while ensuring that the government collection of this intelligence follows important provisions and safeguards to protect the reasonable privacy interests of US persons.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was enacted in 1978 and authorized procedures for the collection of foreign intelligence through physical and electronic surveillance of foreign powers and agents of foreign powers. The Act set up a specific court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), to review and approve requests for surveillance warrants by various government agencies. FISA required individual warrants from the FISC for...
...The Freedom of InformationAct (FOIA) is the embodiment of the public’s right to know about the activities of its government. Transparency is an integral part of a democracy and is necessary to hold a government accountable to its people. FOIA is a foundational transparency law, and one of the most important tools in creating and maintaining a transparent and accountable government. It is the primary mechanism by which the public can gain access to government information. FOIA has proven to be extremely effective in creating a more transparent federal government.
FOIA is a federal law that allows people to request information from the Federal Government. Under FOIA, people may file a request for any existing record at any federal agency for any reason.1 Agencies subject to FOIA include the Executive Branch departments, agencies, and offices; federal regulatory agencies; and federal corporations.2 The Legislative Branch and the Judicial Branch are not subject to FOIA.
FOIA was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966. Prior to FOIA’s enactment, the public had no formal method to request or receive information from the government. Some government meetings were held in secret and citizens had access only to information that the government chose to make public. Representative John Moss was the first Member of Congress to advocate for a policy that would give the...
...FREEDOM OF INFORMATIONACT, 2011 EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM
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.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATIONACT, 2011 ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS
Section: 1. Rights of access to records. 2. Information about public institution. 3. Request for access to records. 4. Time for granting or refusing application. S. Transfer of application. 6. Extension oftime limit for granting or refusing application. 7. Where access is refused. 8. Fees. 9. Record keeping and maintenance of records. 1O.Destruction or falsification of records. l l.Exemption of international affairs and defence. l2.Exemption oflaw enforcement and investigation. l3.Training of officials on the right to information and on the effective implementation of this Act. 14.Exemption of personal information. 15.Exemption of third party information 16.Exemption of personal or...
The Freedom of Information has been the foremost battle for Journalists in their struggle to inform the public about the activities and policies of government.
The Nigeria’s Freedom of informationAct was a long awaited bill which was finally signed into Law in 2011, thus putting an end to the era of secrecy in the act of governance in Nigeria.
The basic aims of this study therefore are
1) To carry out an in depth review of Freedom of InformationAct 2011,
(2) Critically examines its implications for ethical Journalism practice in Nigeria. The method used in carrying out this study includes assessing the content of freedom of informationAct which form the Secondary source of data and the findings therein regulating the code of ethics in Journalism, thus recommending that strict adherence to the provision of the FO1 Act would consequently reduces the unethical practices that journalist in Nigeria often enmeshed in while striving to gather informations from government and private/public organizations.
Over the years, there has been vehement struggle for Press Freedom all over the developed and developing nations of the world. There is hardly any country in the world that this struggle has not yield positive result, but in most...
...one which allows for a national and international balance that is beneficial to it and to its people. This could be considered as a balanced flow of information into, out of, and across the country. The press, and for the matter, the public, has a constitutional right to demand the examination of public records as part of freedom of information (Paterson, 2005). It is a public right where the parties concerned are the citizens and they can ask forinformation as long as it is of public interest. This is the freedom of information. It simply means the access by individuals as a presumptive right to information held by public authorities (Black’s Law Dictionary, 1990).
The object of the Freedom of InformationAct is to extend as far as possible the right of access of the Australian community to information in the possession of the government. There are two ways by which this is done. First is to require the annual publication of certain information by each government department or agency and the second is by the creation of an enforceable right of access to specific information held by government departments or agencies (Wallace & Pagone, 1990).
This right, however, does not mean that everyday citizens can just go to public offices and demand right away what they want to know. As is in many...
...by the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, and now comes another bill that will excite his thoughts once more.
The proposed Freedom of Information or FOI Bill has been getting a piece of the news recently, and debates won’t end, not until the bill is passed by the lawmakers down in the Lower Chamber.
The Right to Facts
Article III Section VII of the 1987 Constitution reads:
“The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to public records, and to documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to limitations as may be provided by law.”
This is the essence of the FOI Bill, which will also allow the citizenry to access government records by various means: print, visual, and sound.
But ask any reporter, member of the press, individual, or member of advocacy groups investigating government transactions, or just seeking information on public records of government institutions, and he’ll tell you that at one time or another he had had a rough time securing documents, even coming out empty-handed on some, if not frequent occasions.
To this day, the government still lacks a standard, simple and expeditious method of according information to the public, even as the...
...very common to define any period of time by its most influential and distinctive phenomenon (e.g. feudalism, capitalism, etc.). The question is then, what is the most influential, or which is a more distinctive factor in our present world? There are arguments and discussions which may vary in propositions but potentially agree with the central idea of ‘the flow of information’.
Unlike traditional societies, there are many different forms of emerging societies that are based on information-technology, more specifically, computers and the internet. These societies altogether create a picture of our present societies, which are called information societies (IS) which was conceptualized since long before. According to Yoneji Masuda, there are four stages of technological development and when the highest level will be achieved, the information society will appear (Masuda, Y. 1981). Undoubtedly, we passed that level in the nineties. Before going through the details, it is necessary to develop an overall idea of an IS. We find many characteristics of IS which can best define these types of societies.
Defining Information Society (IS)
As mentioned earlier, we divide and define our time by what it constitutes of with its influential and distinctive characteristics. It was not so difficult before when the societies were simple, close, and smaller in scale. However, it has become rather more difficult due...