Friday, 21 March 2014

Do you know that any Nigerian can make a request to public authorities for any information at all and Whistleblowers are now protected?

Since 28 May 2011 when the the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)  became operational, anyone in Nigeria can make a request to public authorities for any information at all, except some that might be withheld to protect various interests that are allowed for by the FOIA. There are number of discernable impacts arising from the passage of this act:

- Nigeria has now become more open and transparent in relation to public sector activities. Government has honoured all requests by the media for sensitive public records. This has helped in the development of investigative journalism in Nigeria, with the Nigerian press playing a hitherto impossible, but important, role in encouraging good governance and discouraging corruption in public service.

- Government agencies, such as the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Code of Conduct Bureau, and the Code of Conduct Tribunal, as well as security and other law enforcement agencies, find it easier to perform their duties.

- By protecting whistleblowers, FOIA provides further impetus to government’s anti- corruption efforts.

 In the long-term, the law triggers social changes that will be catalysts for more rapid institutional, social, and economic development.

 - The administration’s reforms in the Nigeria’s extractive industry have strengthened Reforms in the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI)’s activities, so much so that Nigeria won the global award as the best implementing country of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI). The President of EITI, described Nigeria’s implementation of EITI in the country’s oil, gas, and mining sectors as ‘exemplary’.

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