OrderPaperToday – The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has inducted the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) into its Freedom of Information (FOI) Hall of Shame, following its failure to comply with crucial aspects of the FOI Act.
In a statement on Monday by its Programme Director, Ayode Longe, MRA noted its disappointment over the violation of the rights of citizens to information by an institution established specifically to protect and defend their rights.
According to him, “it is disheartening that the National Human Rights Commission, a strategic public institution established with a specific mandate to promote, protect and enforce human rights, has consistently been in violation of this important citizens’ right which is widely regarded as an enabler of all other rights, when it should be actively engaged in assisting citizens to exercise the right and enforcing compliance by other public institutions with their obligations under the Act.
“We have noted with serious concern that over the last seven years that the FOI Act has been in force in Nigeria, the Commission has persistently neglected to comply with some of its obligations under the Act, particularly those which are aimed at enabling citizens exercise their rights under the Law, thereby undermining in its fundamental duty of enhancing the exercise and enjoyment of the guarantees of human rights in Nigeria”
Speaking further, Longe accused the NHRC of not designating an appropriate officer to whom applications for information should be sent in line with provisions of the Act despite training provided for the Commission by MRA and Right to Know.
Longe added that since 2011, the Commission has submitted only one annual report on its implementation of the FOI Act to the Attorney-General of the Federation while failing to publish and widely disseminate most of the 16 categories of information that is required by the FOI Act.
“Although we are aware that the Commission has been largely responsive to requests for information from members of the public, its own failure to rigorously comply with its reporting obligations under the Law has resulted in our inability to resolve this issue in its favour as we do not have a full picture of the number of requests it has received annually over the last seven years and the number it has responded to in order to make a reliable assessment about the level of its responsiveness,” he remarked.
MRA’s Programme Director concluded by calling on the Commission to put its house in order by setting in motion the apparatus required to fully implement the Act.