In celebration of the Right to Know Day 2014, The Right To Know (R2K), Nigeria is renewing its call for Nigerians to take advantage of their right to access information, in the use and full implementation of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
R2K notes the progressive successes of the FOI in the past three years in consolidating the exercise of the public’s right to information under the FOI Act, including the favourable decisions of the Nigerian Courts that have upheld and continue to uphold the rights of the public to information.
Especially notable are the decisions upholding the right of Nigerians to access information under the Act from all tiers of government – Federal, State and Local government, and from private institutions performing public functions and services, or handling public funds on behalf of government, in keeping with the provisions FOI Act.
Furthermore, the Courts have consistently maintained that the FOI Act is binding upon public officers in the conduct of their official duty. Increasingly, across a broad range of matters in the public foray, more cases are been ruled in favour of disclosure of information.
Thus, demonstrably, the FOI Act gives all Nigerians the means of knowing how tax-payers’ money is spent, and a basis to refuse arbitrary use and abuse of power by public officers, thus placing in the hands of the people a tool to curb corruption and enshrine good governance practices.
R2K thus encourages Nigerians to take ownership of the FOIA process as an expression of citizen’s sovereignty. Mrs. Ene Nwankpa, R2K National Coordinator stated that, “Nigerians continually agitate for transformation in governance, and now, for the past 3 years, we’ve been given the FOI Act – the tool for transformation.
Yet most successful initiatives for change using the law – such as the removal of the illegal, and now defunct Abuja Park and Pay Scheme – have been largely at the instance of civil society organizations.
We are calling on members of the public to move beyond the rhetoric, and to actively participate in using the FOI Act to entrench accountable and transparent processes in the business of governance in Nigeria.”
R2K joins the global community of freedom of information advocates today to further call for more open, democratic societies where there is full citizen empowerment and participation in government with greater commitment to the provisions of the FOI Act by government and public institutions.
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