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Rights activists, under the umbrella of Media Rights Agenda (MRA), have indicted the Presidency over non-implementation of the Freedom of Information (FoI).

They accused it of alleged gross failure of leadership in leading other public institutions in the country in implementing the Act.

In a statement yesterday, MRA’s Programme Manager in charge of FoI, Mr. Ridwan Sulaimon, said that since the signing of the FoI Act into law in 2011, elected and appointed officials in the Presidency had consistently acted as if the Act does not apply to them.

According to him, those who are expected to lead by example are working against the success of the FOI Act as if they are above the law.

The statement said: “It is patently clear from the provisions of the FoI Act that it covers and applies to the Presidency, particularly in the light of Section 29 (9) (a), which defines government bodies to which the Act is applicable to include “any executive department, military department, government corporation, government controlled corporation, or other establishment in the executive branch of the government (including the Executive Office of the President), or any other arm of government, independent or regulatory government agency or public institution.

“Despite the express provisions of the law over the last six years since the FoI Act came into force, the Presidency has not issued or submitted to the Attorney-General of the Federation, as required by Section 29 (1) of the Act, any yearly report on the implementation of the Act and has not published such a report, as stipulated by the law.

“The Presidency has also not complied with its proactive publication obligations under Section 2(3) and (4) of the Act as it has not published, either on the State House website or anywhere else, the categories of information which the law requires it to publish and disseminate widely to members of the public through various means, including print, electronic and online sources.”

Besides, the MRA accused the Presidency of failing to designate an appropriate officer in the Presidency to whom applications for information under the Act should be sent and publishing the title and address of the officer as required by Section 2 (3) (f) of the Act, adding that “given the peculiar nature of the Presidency with the heavy security arrangements at the seat of power, it is imperative that this provision of the FoI Act is complied with to facilitate the effectiveness of the entire Act.”

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