IPI’s News Innovation Platform to Host Digital Media Event in Johannesburg

The International Press Institute (IPI) in Vienna, Austria, and the IPI News Innovation Platform (IPI NIP), will hold a one-day symposium on digital media in Johannesburg, South Africa, on January 20, 2014.

Alison Bethel McKenzie, International Press Institute Executive Director

Titled “ChallengeSSS of the New Age”, the event will examine three main challenges digital media journalists and digital innovators currently face around the world, namely: Sustainability, Digital Security and Self-Regulation.

Among others speakers, Burt Herman, co-founder of Storify and founder of Hacks/Hackers in the United State; Danny O’Brian, the international director of the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF), also in the United States; and Gwen Lister, founder of the Namibian.com in Windhoek, Nambia, will discuss the main challenges.

Other speakers will include: Alison Bethel McKenzie, IPI’s Executive Director, based in Vienna; Advocate Faith Pansy Tlakula, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa; Julie Taylor, Head of Communications for Google Sub-Saharan Africa; Pili Mtambalike, Regulations and Standard Manager at the Media Council of Tanzania;  Churchill Otieno, the Managing Editor,  Convergence/Digital at the Nation Media Group in Nairobi, Kenya; and Julian Rademeyer, Online Editor of AfricaCheck.org in South Africa.

The symposium will be held at Jozihub in Johannesburg, a co-creation space dedicated to creating sustainable change in Africa.

Gwen Lister, Founder Namibian.com

The event is expected to bring together over 60 local and international representatives from digital media organisations.

The Johannesburg symposium follows the IPI-NIP event in September 2013 at the offices of The Guardian newspaper in London.  Several winners of IPI’s News Innovation Contest, a project funded by Google Inc., shared their winning projects live with approximately 100 people who were present in the audience and with viewers around the world via a Google+ Hangout On Air.

A number of News Innovation Contest winners will also participate in the Johannesburg event, which will feature live Twitter feeds, using the hashtag #IPINIP.

International Press Institute (IPI), a Vienna-based global network for a free media, with members in over 120 countries, is dedicated to the furtherance and safeguarding of press freedom; the promotion of the free flow of news and information and the improvement of the practices of journalism.

IPI-NIP seeks to initiate and promote a dynamic media stakeholder dialogue on the topic of digital innovation and sustainability. Central to this process are the experiences of IPI’s News Innovation Contest winners.

To register for the event, follow this link: http://www.ipinewsinnovation.org/join-us-in-johannesburg.html.   To join the conversation, go to www.ipinewsinnovation.org.

Judge Rules that FOI Act is of General Application to all tiers of Government, their Officials, Agencies and Institutions

In the High Court of Justice

Oyo State of Nigeria

In the Ibadan Judicial Division

Holden at Ibadan

Before the Honourable Justice S. A. Akinteye, Judge

Thursday, the 31st Day of October, 2013

Court No. 54

Suit No. M/332/12

Between:

 Yomi Ogunlola & 1 Or                                                           –  CLAIMANTS

 And

 Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly & 3 Ors                   –  DEFENDANTS

His Lordship, Akinteye, J., noted that by a ruling  delivered on the preliminary objection raised to the originating summons on March 28, 2013, the questions for determination in the suit were as follows:

  1. Whether any Act of the National Assembly, made in furtherance of its powers under section 4. (2) and 4(4) (b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part thereof requires States’ domestication to be applicable in the respective states of the Federation?
  2. Whether the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011, intended to ease access inter alia to public records and Information should be construed restrictively as applicable only to Federal Government institutions?
  3. Whether in constructing Section 2(1) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 the 3rd Respondent is right to hold that the Freedom of Information Act 2011 is inapplicable to Oyo State same not having been domesticated.

If the answers to the above issues are in the negative, then the Applicants seek the following reliefs:

1.   Declaration that the powers granted to the National Assembly under section 4(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part thereof is made absolute by the provisions of Section 4(5) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) albeit without prejudice to the provisions of Section 4(7) thereof.

2.   Declaration that Section 12 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which is in furtherance of Item 31 on the Exclusive Legislative list intended for implementing international treaties has no domestic equivalent under the Constitution or any other law empowering states to domesticate Acts of the National Assembly for applicability in the respective states.

3.   Declaration that Section 2(1) and 3(7) of the FOI Act, 2011 are not restrictive but of general application to all tiers of government i.e. Federal, State and Local Government, their officials, agencies or institutions howsoever described.

The originating summons is supported by an 18-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Ola Bada, a legal practitioner and 2nd Claimant to the suit.

In his written address, dated August 29, 2012 to the originating summons, the learned counsel for the claimants who is the 1st claimant, referred to the questions for determination in the originating summons and submitted as follows:

Ms. Jumoke Sunmonu, Speaker Oyo State House of Assembly
Ms. Jumoke Sunmonu, Speaker Oyo State House of Assembly

On the 1st question, counsel referred to Sections 4(2) and 4(3) of the 1999 Constitution  of Nigeria (as amended) and submitted that the National Assembly’s competence to legislate thereon to the exclusion of any other law making body in the Federation is not in doubt. He said the constitution did not confer upon the states, powers which the Houses of Assembly do not otherwise possess. He said in the absence of provisions in the concurrent legislative list empowering a House of Assembly to domesticate Acts for their applicability in the component states cannot arrogate to themselves such power.

Counsel further submitted that Acts of the National Assembly, where validly made, are laws for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, not the Federal Government and that their applicability extends automatically to the component parts.

Counsel also referred to Sections 4(4) and 4(5) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria and submitted that the National Assembly and the House of Assembly of states have concurrent powers to make laws on matters within the concurrent Legislative list but the laws made by the National Assembly on the concurrent list have supremacy over state legislation on the same matters and where so made, they become applicable without more.

The National Assembly has the legislative competence to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Nigeria that is applicable to all states of Nigeria without infringing on the autonomy of the states if such legislation is designed to correct a malaise plaguing the country.”

He further submitted that by virtue of Section 4(5) of the constitution (supra) which voids state law on the ground of inconsistency, a state law can also be void by applying the doctrine of covering the field. He said where identical legislation on the same subject matter were validly made by the state and the Federation, and where the Federal Act is intended to cover the entire field and provide what the law on a subject should be for the entire Federation, that other law will be void. He cited A-G Ogun State Vs Aberuagba (2002) 2WRN at 57.

He further submitted that where such laws are made by the National Assembly, they become of immediate application as though they were on the Exclusive Legislative List, irrespective of the provisions of any state law to the contrary.

He also stated that it is not out of place for states to re-enact Federal Laws, there is no compulsion by law to do so and the rule of inconsistency is always acting as a check on the choice. He cited A-G for Ontario Vs A-G for the Dominion (1896) Ac 348;  A.G Ogun State Vs. A-G. Federation (1982) 1-2 SC at 41, 95-96; and Lakanmi Vs A-G. Western Region (1974) EGSLR 713 at 722.

Counsel submitted further that where matters have real and substantial relation to the National interest, and they are outside both the Exclusive and the Concurrent Legislative lists as contained in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended), they can be dealt with at the National Assembly under Section (4)(b), even if doing so will amount to interference with activities within a State or States, provided it is to the attainment of a legitimate end.

He said when it is so addressed by legislation, such law becomes applicable without the need for further enactment into law by the respective component States of the Federation and referred to: A-G Ogun State Vs. A-G Federation (Supra) and A.G. Ondo State Vs. A-G Federation (2002) Vol. 22 WRN1.

He also referred to Section 12(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and stated that the provision has no comparable provision under domestic law requiring that an Act of the National Assembly be first domesticated for its applicability in the component units of the Federation.

He said Section 15 of the Interpretation Law Cap. 65, Laws of Oyo State 2000 is not the same as Section 12(1) of the Constitution

He said the provision is for mere administrative convenience and is incapable of suspending or delaying the applicability or abrogating an Act validly made by the National Assembly in the absence of non-compliance with the said Section 15 of the Interpretation Law. He urged the court to resolve the 1st issue in the negative.

Counsel argued the 2nd and 3rd questions together. He submitted that following the Supreme Court’s decision in A-G Ondo State Vs A.G. Federation (Supra)that Section 4(2), 15(5) and Items 60(a), 67 and 68 of the Exclusive Legislative list of the 1999 Constitution not only impose a duty on the Federal Government to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power but also impose the duty of making law through the National Assembly for that purpose.

He further submitted that Information is neither in the Exclusive nor Concurrent Legislative Lists, but where matters have real and substantial relation to the national interest and they are outside both the Exclusive and the concurrent Legislative lists as contained in the 1999 Constitution (as amended), they can be dealt with at national level by legislation in accordance with the supplementary powers of the National Assembly under Section 4(4) (b), even if doing so will amount to interference with activities within a state or states, provided it is to the attainment of a legitimate end.  He cited A-G Ogun State Vs. A-G Federation (Supra).

Counsel submitted further that while it is not out of place for states to re-enact Federal laws as has been the usual practice in Lagos State for instance, there is no compulsion by law to do so and the rule of inconsistency is always acting as a check on the choice. He said it is utter flummery to hold that in the absence of such re-enactment by States, Federal Law is inapplicable to states and referred to Section 21(1) of the FOI Act 2011.

His lordship said it is therefore quite clear that the FOI Act was enacted by the National Assembly pursuant to section 4(4)(b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) in order to bring into effect the provision of Section 39(1) of the same constitution which guarantees the fundamental right “to receive and impart ideas and informational without interference”.

He also referred to Section 32 of the Freedom of information Act for the definition of “Public Institution”.  He further stated that the definition of “Public Institution” is not restricted to any level of government and should therefore not be construed restrictively.

Counsel contended that the words “Act” “Law” and “Regulation” as used in Section 2(1) of the FOI Act, 2011 express the intendment of the drafters of the law to cover the entire field without more and that it is trite that when the words in an Act are clear and unambiguous, they should be given their ordinary meaning. He cited ­Akintola Vs. Adegbenro (1963) Act 614;  Awolowo Vs. Shagari & Ors. (1979)6-9 SC 31; and PDP & Ors Vs. INEC 7 SC (Pt.2) at 30.

He referred to Section 12(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and stated that the provision has no comparable provision under our domestic jurisprudence requiring that an Act of the National Assembly be first domesticated in the component units of the Federation. He said that Section 15 of the Interpretation Law, Cap. 65 Laws of Oyo State is not the same as section 12(1) of the Constitution referred to and cannot be a ground for postponing or delaying the applicability of or indeed abrogate a Federal Act in the absence of such modifications.

In view of this, counsel contended that the defendants cannot be right in holding that the FOI Act, 2011 is inapplicable to Oyo State, same having not been domesticated.

He urged the court to resolve the 2nd and 3rd issues in the negative and grant all reliefs sought in the originating summons.

In her written address in opposition to the Originating Summons, Learned Counsel to the defendants, Mrs. F.B. Segun-Olakojo, Director, Civil litigation and Advisory Services, identified 2 issues for determination as follows:

1.Whether an Act of the National Assembly enacted on a subject matter which is not in the Exclusive Legislative list of the Second Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 automatically becomes applicable in Oyo State of Nigeria.

2. Whether the FOI Act, 2011, an Act of the National Assembly enacted pursuant to Item 4 of the Concurrent List in the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria automatically applies in Oyo State considering the provisions of Item 5 on the same list.

On the 1st issue, counsel submitted that Nigeria operates a Federal system of government and that powers are vested in the National Assembly and the House of Assembly of the 36 States by the Constitution of Nigeria.

She said Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria empowers the National Assembly to enact laws for the Federation subject to the provisions of Section 4(2) and (3) of the Constitution. She also referred to Section 4(4) (a) & (b) of the Constitution which confers on the National Assembly the power to legislate on any matter in the concurrent legislative list set out in the first column of part II of the second schedule.

She submitted that the golden rule of interpretation of the constitution must prima facie be given their ordinary meaning, and cited Ekpenkhio Vs. Egbadon (1993) 7NWLR(pt.308) 717 at 739 (par. F. – H) and  NNPC & Anor Vs. Famfa Oil Ltd. (2012) 5 SC (Pt. 11) 38 at pg. 49

She said it can be deduced that the National Assembly can only enact laws on matters within the Exclusive and Concurrent lists to the extent prescribed by the Constitution.

Counsel also referred to Sections 4(6) and 4(7) of the Constitution (Supra) and stated that the Houses of Assembly of States are also vested with powers to make laws for the states in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. She said this power has not been eroded, diminished or abolished in any form.

She said it is not true that once the National Assembly enacts laws, such laws become of automatic application throughout the component States of the Federation and urged the court to so hold and discountenance claimant’s argument.

On the 2nd issue, counsel submitted that the FOI Act is not based on any item in the Exclusive Legislative lists which would have ousted the jurisdiction of any other body in making its own laws concerning the subject matter. She said the explanatory memorandum of the Act explains that the Acts is to make public records and information freely available and that Archives and public records are items contained in the Concurrent Legislative list in part II of the second schedule of the 1999 Constitution.

She said the National Assembly and the State House of Assembly can legitimately legislate on these items as admitted by the claimants.

Counsel referred to items 4&5 of the Concurrent list and stated that the intention of the Constitution is to have the National Assembly enact laws on this subject matter in relation to Archives and public records of the Federation while the State House of Assembly enacts its own laws in respect of Archives and public records of Oyo State.

His lordship also noted that “the FOI Act is not the first law enacted by the National Assembly that covers the whole Federation of Nigeria. There is also the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act as well as Independent Corrupt Practices Commission Act (ICPC) which covers the whole country. Officials of States, Local Governments and Federal Government are being arraigned in court or investigated for various offences under these laws passed by the National Assembly and without the State governments having adopted the EFCC and ICPC Acts in their various states. I wish to state that there is no section in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which prescribes that a law enacted by the National Assembly has to be adopted by the State House of Assembly to make that law applicable to the state.”

However, she said the vital point on this is that whatever law is passed by Oyo State House of Assembly on this subject matter must not be inconsistent with the Act of the National Assembly already enacted.  She said each state of the Federation has its own peculiarity and that is the spirit behind the Constitution in putting these items in the Concurrent list and not in the Exclusive Legislative list.

Counsel further submitted that Section 4(5) of the Constitution is not applicable because Oyo State has not passed any law that is inconsistent with the FOI Act.

On the issue of covering the field as canvassed by the claimants, she submitted that the case of A-G Ogun State Vs. Aberugba (Supra) is not on all fours with the present one.  She said what the House of Assembly of Oyo State is saying is that it has to enact its own law to adopt the provisions of the Act for it to become applicable in Oyo State.

She said this is not the first time this will be done and gave some examples such as ‘Public Officers’ Protection Law, “State Universal Basic Education Law”, Child Rights Law”, Oyo State “Independent Electoral Law” and “Criminal Law”.

She said these laws were legitimately enacted by the State Legislature despite the fact that there are Federal Government Acts enacted on the same subject matter. However, she said such laws must not be inconsistent with the provisions of the Federal Acts.

Counsel further submitted that in order to adopt the FOI Act in Oyo State, it is necessary to enact a law which is not inconsistent with the Act and will reflect all formal alterations as provided in Section 15 of the Interpretation Law Cap. 65 Laws of Oyo State 2000.

She further stated that the intention of the Federal Legislature in enacting the Act was not to make its provisions of automatic application throughout the component states of the Federation of which Oyo state is one and referred to Section 31 of the Act where Minister is defined and there is no reference to “Commissioner” as provided for the states of the Federation”.

Also, she stated that the definition of government in Section 29 of the Act shows that the FOI Act is only applicable to Federal Government institutions as opposed to that of the government of Oyo State.  Furthermore, she said Section 29(1) of the Act refers to the Attorney-General of the Federation who is a Federal Government officer and not that of the state.

Counsel finally submitted that the provisions of the FOI Act is not intended to have immediate and automatic application in Oyo State until it is adopted and enacted by the Oyo State House of Assembly which is constitutionally empowered to do so.

She urged the court to dismiss Claimants’ claim.

His lordship, Akinteye, J., said having read and considered the Originating Summons as well as the written addresses of both counsel, he wished to take the questions for determination in the suit one after the other as listed by the Claimants.

On the 1st question of:  “Whether any Act of the National Assembly, made in furtherance of its powers under Section 4(2) and 4(4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part thereof requires states Domestication to be applicable in the respective states of the Federation,” his lordship is it would be pertinent to set out some sections of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended).

His lordship identified them as sections 4(2), (3), 4(4), (a) & (b) & (5) and quoted their provisions, saying  there is no doubt that Nigeria is a federation with component number of states and the Federal Capital Territory.

He stated that the 1999 Constitution (as amended) has spelt out matters within the legislative competence of the National Assembly and those of the component state Houses of Assembly, adding that it has also given power to both the National Assembly to legislate on matters spelt out in the Concurrent list of part 2 of the Second Schedule, with a provision that a state law must not be inconsistent with a law validly made by the National Assembly.

His lordship noted that the Claimant’s counsel had strenuously argued that the National Assembly can legislate not only on matters specified in the Exclusive Legislative and Concurrent lists, but can also legislate on matter not covered in both lists for the peace, order and good government of Nigeria or any part thereof.

On the other hand, he said, the Defendants’ counsel argued that Nigeria being a Federation, the National Assembly cannot legislate on matters not specified in both the Exclusive and Concurrent lists because of the peculiarities in each state, adding that she also posited that for such a law made by the National Assembly to be applicable, it has to be adopted by the state of House of Assembly.

His lordship held that “it is unnecessary for state governments to adopt the FOI Act in their respective states before being applicable there”

His lordship said: “It is my respectful view that the National Assembly by virtue of Section 4(2), 4(4) and 4(5) of the Constitution of Nigeria (supra) earlier referred to has the competence to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the federation or any part thereof not only on matters specified in both the Exclusive and Concurrent lists of the Constitution but on all other matters to which it is empowered to make laws.”

He said the issue of whether the National Assembly can make law for the peace, order and good government of Nigeria came up for consideration by the Supreme Court in the case of A-G Ondo State Vs. A-G Federation & ors (2002) 9 NWLR (Pt. 772) pg 222, which is thecase is on the legality of the corrupt practices and other related offences Act, 2000 as it is applicable to Ondo State.

According to his lordship, in the judgment, his lordship, Hon. Justice Uwaifo J.S.C. at pg. 417 paras D-H stated as follow:-  “It would seem right to conclude that where a subject-matter in its manifestation spreads across the states and even over the borders of Nigeria and is such that is best suited for legislation by the National Assembly upon a liberal construction of all relevant provisions of the Constitution, a legislation thus made cannot be said to be an interference with the affairs of the states just because it is made applicable to all over the federation. The purpose and mission of the Act are clear. The Act is meant to make justifiable by legislation a declared state policy to abolish corrupt practices and abuse of power”.

His lordship said from the authority above, it could be seen that “the National Assembly has the legislative competence to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Nigeria that is applicable to all states of Nigeria without infringing on the autonomy of the states if such legislation is designed to correct a malaise plaguing the country.”

His lordship added that it is not true as canvassed by learned counsel to the defendants that such a legislation has to be adopted by the states of the Federation to be applicable in their states.

He therefore resolved the 1st issues in the negative

His lordship considered questions 2 and 3 together, namely:  “Whether the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2011 intended to ease access inter alia to Public Records and information should be construed restrictively as applicable only to Federal Government institutions?” and “Whether in construing Section 2(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the 3rd Respondent is right to hold that the Freedom of Information Act 2011 is inapplicable to Oyo State, same not having been domesticated”.

His lordship observed that the FOI Act is “An Act to make public records and information, more freely available, provide for public access to public records and information, protect public records and information to the extent consistent with the public interest and protection of personal privacy…”

He referred to Section 2(1) and 31(3) of the FOI Act (supra) for the definition of Public Institutions.

Section 2(1) states as follows: “A public institution shall ensure the proper organization and maintenance of all information in its custody in a manner that facilitates access to such information”.

Section 31(3) states that “Public Institution means any legislative, executive, judicial, administrative or advisory body of the government, including boards, bureau, committees or commissions of the state and any subsidiary body of those bodies including but not limited to committees and subcommittees which are supported in whole or in part by public fund or which expends public fund and private bodies providing public services……., performing public functions or utilizing public funds.”

His lordship also cited Section 39(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which provides as follows:  “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.”

On the issue of domestication of law enacted by the National Assembly before being applicable in Oyo State, his lordship stated that “domestication of law belongs to the realm of international law.”

He stated that it is a cardinal principle of interpretation of statues that where the words used are plain and unambiguous, they should be given their ordinary and plain meaning, and referred to Egbe Vs. Yusuf (1992) NWLR (Pt.245) 1;  Nwakire Cs. C.O.P. (1992) NWLR (Pt. 241) 289; and Okotie-Eboh Vs. Manager (2004) 18 NWLR (Pt. 905) 242.

In addition, his lordship noted, it has been said that where the definition section has defined a particular word or expression, the meaning so given to the word, unless the context otherwise requires, shall be used throughout the statute, and referred to Kalu Vs. Odili (1992) 6(SCNJ 76.

His lordship held that a careful reading of the constitutional provision and the FOI Act will reveal that the Act is aimed at fulfilling the Fundamental Right provision to “receive information without interference”.

He held further that information is not within the Exclusive or Concurrent lists of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) but that the FOI Act was nevertheless of general application to both the federal and state governments as defined in “Public Institution” which refers to any legislative, executive, judicial, administrative or advising body of the government including boards, bureau committees or commissions of the state and any subsidiary bodies of those bodies…”

His lordship noted the defendant’s argument that the FOI Act was enacted by the National Assembly pursuant to Item 4 of the Concurrent list in the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and that it is Item 5 of the Concurrent list that grants power to Oyo state House of Assembly to enact its own law.

His lordship noted further that Item 4 of the Concurrent list provides as follows:  “The National Assembly may make laws for the Federation or any part thereof with respect to the archives and public records of the Federation” while Item 5 provides as follows:  “A House of Assembly may, subject to paragraph 4 hereof, make laws for that state or any part thereof with respect to archives and public records of the Government of the state.”

He said a careful perusal of the provisions above will reveal that the item in the Concurrent list relates to “archives and public records of the federation and the Government of the state. In other words, he said, both the National Assembly and State House of Assembly can legislate on “archives and public records” of the Federation and Governments of the states respectively.

His lordship however stated that legislating on “archives and records” of the Federation and Government of the state is quite different from the legislating on Freedom of Information Act, adding that “The FOI Act deals with public records and information on public institutions as defined in the Act.”

He further stated that if a state Government legislates on archives and records which is inconsistent with that of the National Assembly, the legislation by the state shall be void to the extent of the inconsistency and cited Section 4(4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

His lordship said it is therefore quite clear that the FOI Act was enacted by the National Assembly pursuant to section 4(4)(b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) in order to bring into effect the provision of Section 39(1) of the same constitution which guarantees the fundamental right “to receive and impart ideas and informational without interference”.

He said it was also his further view that the National Assembly has enacted the FOI Act to be operational throughout the country in the interest of the common good and national interest, and referred to the case of A-G. Ondo State Vs. A-G. Federation (supra).

Nothing that it has been argued by the Defendants that in order to adopt the FOI Act in Oyo State, it is necessary to enact a law that is not inconsistent with the Act and will reflect all formal alteration as provided for in Section 15 of the interpretation law, Cap. 65 Laws of Oyo State, 2000, his lordship disagreed.

He said: “With respect to learned counsel, for the Act to be applicable, it is not necessary for it to be adopted in Oyo State. The FOI Act as stated earlier is of general application to both the Federal and State Governments in Nigeria. Section 15 of the Interpretation Law of Oyo State has provision in it where the Act shall be read with such formal alterations as to names, localities, offices persons, e.t.c. as to make it applicable to our circumstances.”

His lordship also noted that “the FOI Act is not the first law enacted by the National Assembly that covers the whole Federation of Nigeria. There is also the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act as well as Independent Corrupt Practices Commission Act (ICPC) which covers the whole country. Officials of States, Local Governments and Federal Government are being arraigned in court or investigated for various offences under these laws passed by the National Assembly and without the State governments having adopted the EFCC and ICPC Acts in their various states. I wish to state that there is no section in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which prescribes that a law enacted by the National Assembly has to be adopted by the State House of Assembly to make that law applicable to the state.”

His lordship held that “it is unnecessary for state governments to adopt the FOI Act in their respective states before being applicable there” and therefore also resolve the second  question in the negative.

On the issue of domestication of law enacted by the National Assembly before being applicable in Oyo State, his lordship stated that “domestication of law belongs to the realm of international law.”

His lordship said:  “Item 31 of the Exclusive Legislative list in the Second Schedule, Part 1 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended), confers jurisdiction as regards treaties on the National Assembly. It is the National Assembly under Section 12 of the 1999 Constitution (supra) that can pass such treaties into law before they are applicable in Nigeria. This function of the National Assembly is referred to as the domestication of law.”

Besides, he said, assuming without so deciding that, as argued by the defendants, the FOI Act falls within the Concurrent list, meaning that both the National Assembly and Oyo State House of Assembly have the legislative competence to legislate on it and there is no legislation yet on this by Oyo State House of Assembly, then the FOI Act passed by the National Assembly will be operational in Oyo State.

This, his lordship said, is because even if there is such a law passed by the House of Assembly of Oyo State, it can be inconsistent with the FOI Act, meaning that the FOI Act still prevails over any law passed by Oyo State House of Assembly over the same subject matter.  He referred to A-G. Ogun State Vs. A-G. Federation.

His lordship therefore ruled that the 3rd Respondent is wrong to hold that the FOI Act is not applicable to Oyo State.

Accordingly, he said, questions 2 and 3 have to be resolved in the negative.

His lordship therefore declared as follows:

1. That the powers granted to the National Assembly under Section 4(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the federation or any part thereof is made absolute by the provisions of Section 4(5) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) without prejudice to the provisions of Section 4(7) thereof.

2. That section 12 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which is in furtherance of Item 31 on the Exclusive Legislative list does not empower states to domesticate Acts of the National Assembly for applicability in the respective states.

3. That Sections 2(1) and 31(3) of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011 are not restrictive but of general        application to all tiers of government i.e. Federal, State and Local Government, their officials, agencies or institutions however described.

Mrs. F.B. Segun-Olakojo, Director, Legal Drafting & Parliamentary Counselling, with Mr. O.S. Thomas, Director, Legal Service, House of Assembly; Mrs. N.I. Shittu, State Counsel and Mr. A.T. Ogundare, State Counsel, –  for the defendants.

No legal representation for the Claimants.

AFIC Holds First General Assembly in January

The Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) will hold its first General Assembly in Johannesburg, South Africa, on January 28 and 29, 2014.

AFIC’s Chairperson, Mr. Gabriel Ayite Baglo, who is Director at the Africa Office of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in Dakar, Senegal, said the meeting, being the first since AFIC’s establishment, would provide an important opportunity for members to discuss the progress of the Centre since its establishment and to contribute to its future through strategic planning and networking.

The decision to establish AFIC was taken at a meeting convened by Media Rights Agenda (MRA) in Lagos, Nigeria, in September 2006 with support from the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI).

At the end of the meeting, the participants issued the “Lagos Declaration on the Right of Access to Information” in which they decided to establish AFIC “to provide a platform for cooperation and collaborative activities among civil society organizations in the region.”

AFIC was therefore established as a regional Freedom of Information Centre, where experiences garnered in the different countries can be pooled and shared among civil society activists and which will provide technical assistance to organizations involved in any stage of Freedom of Information advocacy or implementation.

AFIC began operating from the Lagos offices of MRA, its principal promoter, and was subsequently incorporated in Nigeria as a not-for-profit organization, on August 13, 2007. The Secretariat of AFIC remained for some time at MRA, which managed its finances and provided administrative support.

A decision was later taken by the Steering Committee of AFIC, its governing body, to move the Secretariat from Lagos, Nigeria to Kampala, Uganda, where it was initially hosted by the Human Rights Information Network, Uganda (HURINET-U), which was also one of the promoters of the Centre.

Mr. Baglo said since its establishment, AFIC had made strides to establish itself as the continent’s largest membership civil society organization and resource centre promoting the right of access to information.

According to him, “Through members and with support of partners, AFIC has contributed to the advancement of the right to information through different strategies which have enabled it achieve the brand and profile to obtain Observer Status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights as well as an active contributor to the Open Government Partnership as well as Open Contracting initiatives.”

A new Steering Committee is expected to be elected at the General Assembly.

NCAA Refuses to Disclose Procurement Records for Purchase of Bullet-Proof Cars to MRA, PPDC

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) said in November that it would not release the procurement records for the purchase of two controversial bullet proof cars in response to a Freedom of Information request for them because releasing them would undermine ongoing administrative and criminal investigations into the matter.

The NCAA took the position in response to joint request for the documents made by Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011.

Mr. Fola Akinkuotu, Director General Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority
Mr. Fola Akinkuotu, Director General Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority

MRA and PPDC wrote to the NCAA Director General, Folayele Akinkuotu, on October 21, asking for detailed information on the procurement records for the purchase by the NCAA of two BMW 760 LiHSS vehicles with chassis numbers WBAHP41050DW68032 and WBAHP41010DW68044.

The groups asked for copies of the procurement and contract records for the purchase of the cars, including: evidence of budgetary allocation for the procurement process; the procurement plan for the purchase; evidence of advertisements of the planned purchase in various newspapers, the NCAA website, the Procurement Journal, international publications, etc., inviting prospective bidders to submit bids for the procurement; and a list of all bids tendered for the procurement from when it was advertised till the close of the bid; among other documents.

But in a four-page reply dated November 11, 2013 and signed on behalf of the Director-General by NCAA’s Legal Adviser, Mr. E.D. Chukwuma, the Authority confirmed that “some of the information you have requested exist” but added that it was withholding the information on the grounds that the exemptions in Sections 12 and 26 of the FOI Act are applicable to the request.

The NCAA argued that “there was, as at the date of your request, and ongoing, various legislative and administrative enforcement proceedings and criminal investigations into the same matter of purchase of BMW 760 LiHSS vehicles by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) being conducted by the Aviation Committee of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly, the Committee of the Whole House of the Senate of the National Assembly, the Presidential Panel to Examine Alleged Purchase of Two (2) BMW Armored Vehicles for the Use of the Honourable Minister of Aviation as well as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).”

It claimed that “Not only have the information you seek been handed over to these various bodies for the conduct of the legislative and administrative enforcement proceedings and criminal investigation referred to above, but giving same to you may compromise and/or obstruct the proceedings and investigation.”

On the request for evidence of budgetary allocation made for the purchase of the cars, the NCAA also refused to provide the information, arguing that its budget is already published as part of the 2013 budget of the Federal Government and as such, the FOI Act does not apply to it.

Ms Jennifer Onyejekwe, Deputy Executive Director Media Rights Agenda

Commenting on the NCAA’s response, MRA’s Deputy Executive Director, Jennifer Onyejekwe, said it was clear that the agency was being dishonest and merely looking for excuses not to release the records given that a few days before MRA and PPDC made their request to it, NCAA’s Director General, Folayele Akinkuotu, had called a press conference on the controversial procurement during which he claimed that the agency followed due process in the procurement of the bullet-proof vehicles and announced that the records were available for anyone who was interested to inspect.

Onyejekwe said: “It is apparent to us that they never intended to disclose the records and are just trying to take the Nigerian people for a ride. If they followed due process in the procurement of the cars, then what are they afraid of? Why are they hiding the information? How can the release of information which would clearly show that they followed due process and did nothing wrong be detrimental to their interest?”

Besides, she noted, the NCAA deliberately misrepresented and misquoted the provisions of the FOI Act in its response, by omitting words and whole phrases in citing the provisions of the Act in order to try and give the impression that its position was supported by the Law.

Ms Onyejekwe pledged that MRA and its partner organization, the PPDC, would not give up on the issue, adding that their lawyers were in the process of filing an action in court to challenge the NCAA’s refusal to disclose the procurement records and to compel it to do so.

Federal Government Release Grant to Nollywood

The Federal Government of Nigeria has given 40 practitioners in the Nigerian film industry, otherwise known as  Nollywood, various grants under a recently launched capacity training fund of the presidential intervention scheme for the industry, also known as Project ACT Nollywood.

The training components of the capacity building fund is valued at N150 million and is dedicated to training and skills acquisition for Nigerian movie practitioners in all competencies along the entire value chain of the Nigeria’s movie industry.

These include scriptwriting, directing, production and production design, special effects, lighting, sound, HD techniques, acting, cinematography, make-up, editing, etc.

A statement issued by Paul Nwabuikwu, the Special Adviser to the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said: “the Capacity Building Fund is valued at N150 million and was dedicated for skills acquisition in the Nigerian movie industry and the areas of study included: Scriptwriting, Directing, Production and Production Design, Special Effects, Lighting, Sound, HD Techniques, Acting, Cinematography, Make-Up, Editing, etc.”

While expressing satisfaction with the development, the Dr. Okonjo-Iweala asked them to be obedient in the course of their study. She also used the opportunity to request for more applications from qualified candidates for the grant.

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Minister of Finance

Dr. Okonjo-Iwela said: “the whole exercise is to help the industry to make further progress on a more solid foundation, that is why we need more practitioners to come in and take advantage of the opportunity, we need more qualified practitioners to apply from different parts of the country,” she stated.

She observed that: “the northern entries in the scheme have been particularly low, adding that the project is for the whole movie industry so practitioners need to come forward and take advantage of the opportunity.”

The Film Production Fund (FPF) is a N700 million instrument which allocates grants to production companies and independent producers for the making of commercially viable films at any stage of production.

The applications submitted by the practitioners successfully scaled the rigorous qualification processes for the training and skills acquisition segment of the capacity building fund

In a related development, another segment of Project ACT Nollywood, the Film Production Fund, is also operational. Already the website, www.projectactnollywod.com.ng has been activated and is ready to receive applications.

Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Initiative Calls for Applications

The Washington Fellowship is now accepting submissions for the 2014 edition of Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).  The Washington Fellowship which is the new flagship program of the President Barack Obama administration will bring over 500 African young leaders to the United States each year. Though launched in 2010, the programme is accepting its first applications for 2014 Fellowship.

The Fellowship creates a great platform for leadership training, academic coursework, and mentoring, and will create unique opportunities in Africa to put those new skills to practical use in propelling economic growth and prosperity and strengthening democratic institutions. The programme aims to support young African leaders as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa.

The Fellowship which is based on merit is open to young African leaders who meet the set out criteria. Applicants must be between the ages of 25 and 35 at the time of submitting application, although exceptional applicants younger than 25 will be considered. Applicants must be proficient in reading, writing and speaking English and are eligible to receive a United State J-1 visa.

Application is open to the following countries: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, and The Gambia

Other countries to which the application is open are Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Application for the Washington Fellowship is available and must be filled online . Completed applications, including all supporting documents, are due by 12:00 midnight Eastern Standard Time on January 27, 2014.

Click here for more information.

PPDC Holds 4th HomeVida Awards

Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) has completed arrangement to hold the 4th Nigeria Integrity Film (HomeVida)  Awards on December 10, 2013 at the Muson Centre, Lagos. The HomeVida Awards is an annual film award driving creative messaging on integrity and value change through the film channel to Nigerian and African audiences.

At this edition of the HomeVida Awards, the UN Millennium Campaign has endowed a prize promoting human development values as encapsulated by the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). As a result, this year’s event will host guests from the United Nations Millennium Campaign and representatives from the African Union.

The event organizers said: “Over the years, HomeVida has provided incentives for talented Nigerian film makers to mainstream integrity values in their films. It is designed as a partnership between the non-profit, public and private organizations to promote core national and corporate values that are the foundation for nation building.”

Explaining the benefits of the award, the organizers said: “It also provides tremendous opportunity for brand promotion, reinforcement and opens a wonderful opportunity for your organization to tap into the over 250 million Nollywood enthusiasts in Africa and the Diaspora.”

As a result of their partnership with National and International media platforms, their films are being screened year round on international cable stations such as Africa Magic.

Nigeria Integrity Film (HomeVida) Awards is an initiative of Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC).

Groups Seek Incorporation of FOI into Journalism Curriculum

The Nigerian Press Council (NPC) in partnership with the National Universities Commission (NUC), the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) have called for the incorporation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act into the Nigerian journalism curriculum.

This was contained in the communiqué issued at the end of a one-day Focus Group Discussion (FGD) entitled: Incorporation of Democratic Governance Issues in the UNESCO Model Curriculum for Domestication for Improved Journalism Education in Nigeria.The FGD was held in Abuja on October 30, 2013.

Prof Julius Okojie of National University Commission
Prof Julius Okojie of National University Commission

The groups said: “the objective of the interface of the academia and the industry was to review the curriculum of Journalism Education in Nigeria with the purpose of proposing programme content on democracy, governance issues and the emerging media that would be incorporated in the Mass Communication curriculum of Nigerian universities.”

In his opening remark, the Executive Secretary of the NPC, Bayo Atoyebi stated that: “the challenge of the workshop was to determine how to contextualize the content of the curriculum in such a way as to address the peculiar needs of the Nigerian society in a bid to wean it from the pervasive undemocratic mores which had led to the stunted growth and development of its critical political institutions and practices.”

Atoyebi added: “The FGD today was a culmination of the inputs garnered from Advocacy visits of the Council with relevant stakeholders such as the NUJ and the DGD to the NUC and NBTE.”

Prof. Julius A. Okojie, the Executive Secretary of the NUC, represented by the Deputy Executive Secretary, Akinbode Agbaoye, said he “commended the efforts of the Council in partnering with the NUC and other relevant stakeholders to actualize the mandate/goals of the UNESCO which had started in 2008.”  He added that the “NUC was in full support of any efforts that will make mass communication graduates better equipped with relevant knowledge for optimal and effective performance that would make them locally relevant and internationally competitive.”

 Presentations and discussions covered such topics as Synopsis for Good Governance IssuesElements of Chapter II of 1999 Constitution (Significance of Section 22 and FoI Law in Furtherance of Good Governance); Political and Election Reporting and Usage of New Media; Synopsis for Critical Elements of New Media (Information and Communication Technologies) as an Empowerment for the Pursuance of Good Governance, among others.

The group observed that the current curriculum is overloaded with courses in General Studies and that any effort to incorporate more courses should be targeted at improving existing related courses by integrating or subsuming the suggested elements. They added that though most of the proposed courses have already been captured in the existing curriculum, there seems to be a knowledge gap which must be identified so as to determine the type and scope of courses in issues of good governance and usage of the New Media that could be incorporated.

They observed that the NUC needs to identify a cluster of workshops/seminars for students in their third and final years and this should be integrated in the curriculum. In the same vein, training workshops/seminars should be inculcated for Mass Communication educators as part of the continuous education system so as to bridge the gap between the teachers and the students, particularly in the area of ICT.

Among the recommendations made by the groups was that Section 22 of the Constitution and the FOI Act, for good governance, should be incorporated into Journalism curriculum and new communication technology elements should be embraced in the current curriculum.

The groups recommended that Media and Governance in Nigeria should be taken at 300 Level in the first Semester and should be a 2 Units course. Political Communications should be adopted as a 2 Units Course at 400 Level and the proposed content should include political lobbying, political PR and political opinion polls.  This should be an elective course. New and Social Media should be expanded to incorporate Multimedia and Online Journalism at 300 Level. This should be compulsory. Multimedia and Online Journalism II should be introduced at 400 Level as a compulsory course.

They also recommended that Media Regulatory Agencies and Professional Associations should be incorporated as a 2 Units course at the 300 Level and should include the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ); Nigerian Guild of Editors, Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN), the Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB). This course should also be compulsory.

World Bank, Annenberg School of Communication Call for Applications for 2014 Summer Institute in Communication and Reform

The World Bank and Annenberg School of Communication have called for applications for the 2014 Summer Institute in Communication and reform which will be held from June 2 to 13, 2014 in Los Angeles, USA.

The 10-day program is intended for professionals working on reform initiatives around the world including: strategists, government advisors, senior development practitioners, communication professionals, social entrepreneurs and executives who want to build leadership capacity and effect change.

Participants will acquire critical skills in five key areas: Interpreting and using political economy analyses; Crafting multi-stakeholder collaboration, coalition and network building strategies and tactics to support reform; providing communication skills that support the implementation of reforms; Leveraging social/digital media tools and analytics effectively; Developing communication metrics and applying monitoring and evaluation frameworks relevant to reform.

Prospective participants should possess a minimum 10 to 15 years of professional experience with a focus on multi-stakeholder engagement; a masters degree or equivalent in communication, public affairs, political science, international relations, economics, or related field; and fluency in spoken and written English.

To apply, please visit http://www.wbasc.net/ and fill out the 2014 application form. A selection committee will review applications and notify those accepted via email. For further enquiries, prospective applicants should contact Shamiela Mir, smir@worldbankgroup.org.

Application deadline is December 31, 2013

SPJ Calls for Applications for the Pulliam/Kilgore FOI Internships

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) has called for applications to its annual Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information (FOI) Internship programme.

Bernard “Barney” Kilgore

The Interns will receive a stipend of $400 per week and work during a mutually agreeable 10-week period during the summer of 2014. Recipients are notified in late February 2014 and should arrange to start their internships in late May or early June of 2014.

Applicants must be journalism students who are entering or just completing their senior year, a graduate journalism student, or a law student with a journalism background.

Application deadline is January 22, 2014

Interested applicants should email application materials to Scott Leadingham at sleadingham@hq.spj.org  by uploading on google drive or send via USPS to PK Internship/C.O. Scott Leadingham, Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center 3909 N. Meridian St. Indianapolis, IN 46208

The Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information Internships are awarded in memory of Bernard “Barney” Kilgore, an early and active member of the Society of Professional Journalists and former chairman of the board of Dow Jones & Co. Inc., the parent company of The Wall Street Journal; and Eugene C. Pulliam, a founder of Sigma Delta Chi and Central Newspapers Inc.

Internships are funded by the Society’s educational foundation, the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.

For more information please visit http://www.spj.org/i-pullkilgore.asp