Improved Compliance with Mandatory Publication Provisions Requirement (FOIA) (NG0024)
Action Plan: Nigeria Action Plan 2019-2022
Action Plan Cycle: 2019
Lead Institution: Federal Ministry of Justice
Support Institution(s): Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, Public Service Institute of Nigeria, Bureau of Public Service Reforms, National Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Science and Technology, National Information for Technology Development Agency, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, NOA, Ministry of Communication, Code of Conduct Bureau, NTA, FRCN,NAN,VON, Ministry of Education, National Judicial Council, National Assembly, Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Nigerian Bureau of Statistics. Right to Know, Media Rights Agenda, Public and Private Development Centre, International Press Centre, Freedom of Information Coalition of Nigeria, Nigerian Bar Association, NUJ, Ethics & Corporate Compliance Institute of Nigeria, the Academia, Youths in Africa Anti-Corruption Network, Safe & Sound Youth Awareness Initiative, SERAP, R2K, Open Judiciary Initiative, Private Media Organizations, Right to Information Cooperators (RtIC), Enough is Enough, PTCIJ, PPDC, Youths in Africa Anti-Corruption Network, Open Justice Initiative, DATAPHYTE, BudgIT, The Meluibe Empowerment Foundation, Centre for Health Equity and Justice (CEHEJ).
Policy AreasAccess to Information, Capacity Building, E-Government, Judiciary, Justice, Right to Information
This commitment seeks to enhance compliance with the FOIA mandatory publication requirements by Public Institutions to proactively disclose information to the public, submit annual reports to AGF on FOI requests received and responded to in any given year by 1st February of the following year, and improve their responsiveness to requests from the public for information under the FOIA.
1. Low awareness, skills and knowledge of the FOIA provisions and processes by citizens and public servants
2. Lack of designated officers responsible for Freedom of Information in most public institutions
3. Lack of sanctions against public institutions and FOI responsible officers who do not respond to FOI requests or/and report to AGF annually.
4. Inadequate number of the public institution having FOI Portals
5. Few public institutions are submitting their annual reports to the AGF.
6. Lack of infrastructure to support digital collection and management of information to facilitate timely retrieval of information requested for
Specific OGP issue:
1. Members of the public’s participation in governance through the utilization of FOIA
2. Lack of transparency and accountability in government affairs and activities
Rationale for commitment:
There is currently a high level of non-compliance regarding proactive disclosure, responses to FOI requests and annual reporting obligations of public institutions on these requests and their status, and this situation affects public trust in the government which ultimately promotes corruption as information is hidden from public view and interrogation
To promote and actualize the right of citizens to request and receive information about how they are governed and how their country’s resources are utilized.
Improved compliance on the provisions of the FOI Act
IRM Midterm Status Summary
10. Improve FOIA compliance on mandatory publication provisions requirement, annual reporting obligations to AGF, and response to FOI requests
“To promote and actualize the right of citizens to request and receive information about how they are governed and how their country’s resources are utilized.”
- Identification of MDAs that are yet to designate Freedom of Information (FOI) Desk Officers
- Designation of 350 Freedom of Information (FOI) Desk Officer in public institutions identified in (2) above and publication of their contact details
- Training of the designated staff in 2 above and other staff of public institutions involved in the implementation of FOIA
- Integration of the FOI role into the individual or group performance review of the FOI responsible individual and/or unit in public institutions
- Adoption and application of punitive administrative measures against public institutions and officials adjudged to be undermining the effectiveness of the Act or breaching its provisions
- Deployment of an E-FOI portal, or any other digital platform where citizens can make FOI requests and receive responses, in at least 150 public institutions
- Adoption and implementation of Practice Direction to the Judiciary through the Chief Justice of Nigeria to guide the court on FOI cases
- Adoption of technology-based information systems and standards that will ensure that information is collected, collated and stored in a form that enables public officials to efficiently and effectively retrieve the required information within the 7-day time-limit for response to FOI requests as prescribed by the FOIA
Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Nigeria’s action plan at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/nigeria-action-plan-2019-2021/
This commitment’s goal is to enhance the government’s capacity to comply with the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. It intends to encourage the proactive release of information, response to information requests, and submission of reports to the attorney general of the Federation. This commitment builds on Commitment 10 of Nigeria’s 2017–2019 national action plan.
This commitment includes eight milestones. Four activities carried from the previous action plan intend to designate, train, and evaluate FOI desk officers in public institutions; publish their contact details; enable electronic submission of FOI requests; and promote proper collection and storage of data – which would make it easier to retrieve information within the time lines defined by the law. Another important milestone aims to introduce accountability mechanisms in cases of noncompliance with the release of information. This commitment is relevant to the OGP value of access to information, as it envisions various measures to ensure implementation of the FOI Act. The commitment is also relevant to the OGP value of public accountability, as it seeks to adopt and apply punitive administrative measures against officials who fail to comply with the FOI Act.
If implemented fully, this commitment could have a transformative potential impact on increasing public institutions’ (MDAs) compliance with the FOI Act. Increasing the number of MDAs with designated FOI officers could play an important role. Most agencies still lack FOI units within their departments.  As of November 2018, only 130 out of 900 MDAs (14%) had relevant officers assigned.  The commitment’s goal of 350 desk officers would double the current number.
Additionally, electronic portals for submission of FOI requests would ease the process of requesting information. Previously, information requests have been largely paper based. The administrative procedures coupled with a paper-based records management system have contributed to MDAs’ difficulties with meeting the seven-day limit for releasing requested information. As of May 2020, only 11 MDAs had e-FOI portals, and only five were in the process of building portals,  meaning that the commitment’s goal of 150 public institutions with e-portals would represent substantial progress.
Moreover, the commitment foresees two milestones (5 and 7) with accountability measures for noncompliance, which could create an incentive for higher compliance to the law. However, the action plan does not clarify what these accountability measures would include and how they could be applied. Currently, the compliance rate among 900 MDAs is less than 10% according to the research conducted by the CSO, the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR). Under the previous action plan, the government developed a practice direction to guide courts on FOI Cases, which had not been submitted to the judiciary by the beginning of the current action plan. 
Given the number of MDAs engaged in this commitment, the IRM recommends establishing coordination and communication across relevant units with a consistent message and approach to implementation of FOI rules, drawing on examples of MDAs that have gone further in compliance with the FOI Act.
- The Bureau of Public Service Reforms could engage in annual monitoring of MDAs’ compliance with the FOI Act and publish information about MDAs that do not meet the requirements.
- Allocation of sufficient funding would be essential to properly resource MDAs and meet personnel training and technology needs to handle information requests.
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