MRA inducts centre into FOI’s ‘hall of shame’
Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has named the Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre (C<C), as the latest inductee into the Freedom of Information (FOI) ‘Hall of Shame.’ It said it inducted the institution for its apparent total disregard for FOI Act.
The centre is a federal agency established by an Act of the National Assembly for training and moulding of Nigerians to become responsible and respectable citizens and leaders.
According to a statement by the MRA’s Programme Manager for FOI, Mr Ridwan Sulaimon, the centre was conferred with the dubious award following its poor rating on all of its duties and responsibilities under the FOI Act. The agency exhibited a total disregard for the FOI Act and showed no indication of any effort to comply with any aspect of the Law, MRA stressed.
Sulaimon noted that it was ironic that a Centre established to address the leadership challenges confronting the country and on which the Federal Government has put its hope of moulding responsible citizens was wilfully breaking the law, particularly a law aimed at ensuring transparent and accountable governance. The centre obviously does not deserve to exist as it either does not know or is unable to meet even the most basic requirement of civic duties, he said.
According to him, since the enactment of the FOI Act in 2011, the centre has not submitted any annual implementation report to the attorney general of the federation, as required by section 29 of the Act; it has not proactively published the 16 categories of information that it is required to publish in accordance with section 2(3) and (4) of the act; and there is no indication whatsoever that the centre has designated any officer to whom requests for information may be sent. It has certainly not proactively published the title and address of such officer, putting it in breach of Section 2(3)(f) of the act.
MRA explained that the centre was assessed on the basis of the duties and obligations of public institutions contained in the FOI Act and the Implementation Guidelines for the FOI Act issued by the Attorney General of the federation. They include the obligation to issue and submit annual reports on the implementation of the Act by the institution; to response to FOI requests from members of the public; to designate FOI desk officers and publicise their contacts; to train their officials on the public’s rights of access to information and to proactively publish certain categories of information even without anyone asking for them.
MRA therefore called on the director-general of the centre, Mr. Jonah Bawa, to redeem the institution’s image by ensuring that it puts in place necessary measures to facilitate compliance with the relevant provisions of the FOI Act.
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