Utomi, Abike Dabiri-Erewa task civil society groups, others on FOI implementation

Abike Dabiri-Erewa

The lawmaker advised media practitioners to test the effectiveness of the law.

A member of the House of Representatives, Abike Dabiri-Erewa and Pat Utomi, on Tuesday tasked Civil society groups in the country on the implementation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) law.

The duo spoke at a seminar to mark the 2013 World Press Freedom Day, jointly organised by the U.S. Consulate, the Nigeria Guild of Editors and Pan African University, for journalists in Lagos and Abuja.

Utomi said that it was “not enough to just enact’’ the FOI bill into law, but its implementation was significant.

The President of the Centre for Values and Leadership (CVL) said that civil society groups and the professional bodies, like lawyers had important roles to play in its implementation.

“It is important to know that it is only when people have access to information that we can say that the FOI law has worked.

“It is, therefore, important for civil society groups and professional bodies to become more active in the implementation of the FOI law,’’ he said.

Mr. Utomi said that the FOI law, when effectively implemented, would be valuable in building institutions in the country.

He noted that the country had been lagging in her socio-economic development due to lack of access to information.

Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa, the House Committee Chairperson on Nigerians in the Diaspora, said that the FOI law was meant to bring about transparency and accountability.

The House Committee Chairman said that the law could only work when it was understood by Nigerians.

“FOI is not about being vindictive, but to bring about the positive change that we all need right now. It can only work in this country when all of us join hands in making it work.

“And we should be determined to make things work in this country,’’ she said.

Dabiri-Erewa, therefore, enjoined media owners to always build journalists’ capacity, as well as give them better remuneration.

She challenged media houses to test the implementation of the FOI by challenging any rejection of information by a government agency in court.

(NAN)

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