Journalists in the country have been urged to make proper use of Freedom of Information (FOI) Act in unraveling hidden truth, especially in the area of corruption.
The advice was given by Mr. Lanre Arogundade, the director of International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos, during a media tweet conference on the use of FOI Act, on Thursday.
Arogundade in his opening remarks at the conference, which was in conjunction with the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Consulate-General, Lagos, said the decision of the Centre to focus on the use of Freedom of Information Act by the media and Civil Societies is based on recent happenings in the country, which show that the journey towards transparency in Nigeria could take longer than anticipated, despite the change of government.
Arogundade, who commended the last administration led by Goodluck Jonathan for making FoI Act a reality, described as worrisome the wall of darkness that enveloped the true earnings of elected political office holders in the country, and the transactions in the oil sector, which is still shrouded in secrecy in the belly of wide spread corruption.
He tasked the media to effectively use the FoI Act in fulfilling their constitutional obligations to monitor governance and do hold government accountable to the people.
On his part, the deputy Executive Director of Social-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Barrister Olukayode Majekodunmi, who was the lead speaker at the confluence, observed that for the FoI Act to effectively achieved its objective, it needs to be reviewed.
He also called for more involvement by the judiciary in the use of the Act.
Majekodunmi, who spoke on the ‘Use of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by Media and Civil Society in Terms Quest for Transparency in Nigeria’, also advocated for the liberalisation of the technicality of the FoI Act, this he said will enable all Nigerians to understand the purpose of the the Act.
Also speaking at the event, was the Art/Media editor of the Guardian newspaper, Mr. Kabir Garba, who said there is need for systematic study of how well the Act has changed the landscape, which defined the Act’s necessity based on real scenario of implementation since enactments of the Act.
Garba also called for collaboration between the media and Civil Societies on the use of the FoI Act. While adding that the journalists should take the Act from the realms of report to realms of study, to enable them to know how proper to use the Act in getting what they need from the public institutions.
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