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Please CLICK HERE to download a copy the signed FOI 2011 Act
 

The Freedom of Information Act

The freedom of Information (FOI) Act signed into law on May 28, 2011 is an Act that gives every Nigerian a legal right of access to information, records, and documents held by government bodies and private bodies carrying out public functions.

 

It applies to all arms of government: the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary as well as to all tiers of government: Federal, State, and Local governments.

 

Before now, Nigeria had no law which guaranteed citizens access to public records and information. On the contrary, many Nigerian laws have secrecy clauses prohibiting the disclosure of information e.g. the Official Secret Act, the Criminal Code, the Penal Code, etc.

 

Most public servants are made to swear to oaths of secrecy when employed and the general consequence of these is an entrenched culture of secrecy and arbitrariness in government institutions.

 

Anyone requesting information need not demonstrate a special interest in the information.

 

The Act, among other things, sets time limits within which government and public bodies must release information requested and provides for judicial review where access to information is denied.

 

There are certain categories of information that are exempted from the general right of access and include such information as: Defence/security matters’ The conduct of international affairs, Law enforcement investigation, Trade secrets, Financial, commercial, and technical and scientific information of economic value.

 

Others include: Personal information, Third party information, Solicitor/client privilege, and Test questions and exam, etc.
 

The FOI Act went though the normal legislative procedures of three Readings, a Public Hearing, and passage by both chambers of the National Assembly.

The FOI Bill spent over 11 years in the legislative process before it was finally signed by President Goodluck Jonathan.
 

Click here for the Freedom of Information Bill Originally Sent to the House of Representatives

Click here for the Freedom of Information Bill as passed by the House of Representatives
Click here for the Freedom of Information Bill Harmonised by the Joint Committee of both Chambers (PDF Version)
Click here for the Freedom of Information Bill Harmonised by the Joint Committee of both Chambers (MS Word Version)
 

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