The Right to Know Initiative (R2K), a Nigerian advocacy group, has commended the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, over his circular to ministries, agencies and departments of government directing them on the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, particularly on Section 29, which provides for timelines and standards of reporting compliance on FoIA implementation by all agencies of government.
The commendation was made in a press release from R2K made available to Premium Times in Abuja, Monday signed by Ene Enonche, its coordinator.
The R2K says the circular is a “preliminary demonstration of the AGF’s commitment to meeting his statutory responsibility of monitoring compliance by all institutions with the provisions of the Act.”
The body however says the circular alone does not yet tangibly contribute towards establishing the prescribed framework for the implementation of the Act.
“The FoI Act has been operational since 28 May 2011. This circular comes 8 months after the FoI Act became law, and is clearly not the full guidelines as stipulated by Section 29. However, MDAs ought to have begun implementation of the FoI Act and are bound by the reporting obligations even if guidelines are not ready: the Act is clear enough. Ideally, all MDAs ought to have submitted compliance reports to the Attorney General’s office by 1 February, which was over a week ago,” Ms. Enonche said.
R2K also says in addition to developing reporting guidelines and receiving reports from MDAs, the AGF must also ensure that a consolidated report is made available to the relevant committees of both Chambers of the National Assembly not later than 1st April, and to members of the public.
He is to report on his discharge of this duty and other responsibilities conferred on him in keeping with the provisions of Section 29 of the Act.
It is important that the AGF’s office expedite the process of developing these guidelines so as to ensure full compliance by institutions and ensure Nigerians access the benefits of the Act, the group said.