From Atiku Sarki, Abuja
The International Press Centre (IPC) located in Lagos, in partnership with Media Rights Agenda (NIRA), has organized a two-day training workshop for journalists on how to use the FOI Act to hold relevant agencies of government for transparency and accountability.
The two-day training workshop was organized in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja recently with journalists from different media houses across the 36 states and the Federal Territory (FCT) Abuja in attendance.
Speaking at the opening of the workshop, the Executive Director, International Press Centre (IPC) Mr. Lanre Arogundade had explained that the aim of the workshop was to sharpen the skills of journalists and other stakeholders on how to use the FOI Act as a tool to facilitate transparency and accountability to some of relevant agencies in government most especially how transparent, free, fair and credible in the last elections and monitor covid-19 funds.
According to him, the expected outcome of the workshop was to sensitize and enlighten media, civil society organization and Nigerians to effectively use the Act to hold all relevant agencies of government and other public institutions accountable.
In his paper presentation with a topic ‘Understanding the key features of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011’ by the Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Mr. Edetaen Ojo said that the FOI Act, which was passed into law in 2011, gives a fundamental human right to all citizens to enjoy and have access to any information from public institutions except where there national security or personal interest where such information can be deny.
Mr. Ojo, revealed that currently, there are 23 countries in Africa which have adopted the FOI laws with 125 countries globally.
He also observed that South African was the first country in the African continent to adopt the FOI laws in 2000.
The Executive Director of MRA called on the media and Civil Society Organizations as well as many Nigerians to use the FOI Act being the legal instrument to fight corruption to some of these government ministries, agencies and departments who in one way or the other engaged in corrupt manners. Also in their papers presentation at the event, the Executive Director, Centre for Social justice (CSJ), Abuja, Mr. Eze Onyekpere with his paper, ‘Understanding and Reporting campaign finance and political Expenditure Frameworks and Issues’ and Ms. Tobore Ovuorie, a freelance investigative journalist with the topic of her paper ‘Using Investigative Reporting Techniques to monitor compliance with campaign finance and political Expenditure Regulations,’ the Associate Professor and Head of mass Communication in Baze University of Abuja, Dr. Abiodun Adeniye, also presented his paper with a topic ‘Deploying the FOI Act and other Investigative Tools/methodologies in Reporting Covid-19 funds in the public Interest,’ while Mr. Lanre Arogundade, the Executive Director of International Press Centre also had his paper early presented at the workshop with a topic ‘The Role of the Media in ensuring Good Governance and Government Accountability.