According to stakeholders at the maiden FOI awards in Abuja, the implementation of the Freedom of Information, FOI, Act has remained stunted, ten years down the line by the bottle neck of ignorance.
The event, which brought together key players in the passage of the FOI Act, convened by the International Press Centre, in conjunction with the Media Rights Agenda under component 4b: support to the media of the EU support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria project was also a declaration by Nigerians to seek direct access to information as contained in the law.
In an opening remark, the chairman on the occasion, Justice of the African Court of Human and People’s Rights, Arusha, Tanzania, Justice Stella Anukam, said the mandate of the African Court on human and People’s Rights is to strengthen the human rights protection system in Africa and ensure respect for and compliance with the African charter on human and people’s rights as well as other international instruments.
According to her, it is indisputable that the enjoyment of human rights including the right to information will be better enhanced when people are aware about their rights and can exercise them.
For the head of Democracy, Governance and Migration Section, Delegation of the European Union to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Clement Bouthillier, there is no democracy without a truly free press and freedom of information.
Earlier, the Executive Director, International Press Centre, Lanre Arogundade, said the fight for freedom of information began many years ago with optimism that Nigeria shall one day have a civil dispensation, where access to information law would be required as a catalyst for accountability and transparency.
Some personalities that contributed to the passage of the bill, in the seventh National Assembly, including Senator Ndoma Egba, Senator Ayogu Eze, Honourable Abike Dabiri-Arewa preferred solutions to a more effective use of the Freedom of Information Act.