Freedom of Information Coalition Nigeria Elects Board

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Coalition in Nigeria has established a Board of Governors charged with directing the affairs of the Coalition.

The Board was inaugurated on January 29, 2015 at the Second Freedom of Information Act Implementers Strategy Meeting in Abuja.

The meeting which was convened by Media Rights Agenda from January 27 to 29, 2015 aimed at strengthening FOI implementation efforts in Nigeria in a strategic and structured manner. The meeting adopted mechanisms for ensuring greater coordination, collaboration, as well as information, experience and skills sharing and exchange in FOI implementation activities among civil society organizations and legal practitioners within the country.

As part of its re-structuring process, the group elected and inaugurated a Board of Governors to steer the affairs of the Coalition. A Secretariat hosted by the Media Rights Agenda was also set up to function along with the Board until an independent office is created.

The new Board of Governors consists of: Mr. Yusuf Yakub Arrigasiyyu from the Muslim League for Accountability (MULAC) in Kaduna; Mr. Isah Garba from the Bauchi State Coalition for the Improvement of Public Expenditure Management (BACIPEM) in Bauchi; Mr Terna Yanayka of the Centre for Public Opinion and Media Research (CePOMeR) in Abuja; Mr. Bob Dum Lezina Amegua, a legal practitioner with Karibi-Whyte & Co (Coronation Chambers) in Port Harcourt; Mr. Walter Duru of the Media Initiative Against Injustice Violence and Corruption (MIIVOC) in Owerri; Mrs. Motunrayo Alaka of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) in Lagos; Ms Jennifer Onyejekwe of Media Rights Agenda (MRA) in Lagos.

Cross section of participantsThe meeting also strengthened and expanded the Network of Lawyers working on FOI litigation across the nation. The Network highlighted and discussed contradictory litigation procedures and legal issues in the handling of FOI cases with a view to reaching a consensus. The Network encouraged legal colleagues to use every opportunity to sensitize the judiciary on the FOI Act, 2011.

The meeting was also an opportunity for experience sharing amongst groups implementing various FOI projects and activities on issues of advocacy, capacity building, public awareness, litigation, information technology and media. The experience shared helped members to appreciate what other organizations were doing and brought about a realization that many members of the Coalition working on FOI related issues are largely doing so in silos.  It was therefore agreed that there was a lot of room for better collaboration.  Specific areas of collaboration and joint activities were identified.

The meeting was supported by the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Democratic Governance for Development (DGD) II Project. The DGD II Project is a joint donor-funded project managed by UNDP in support of deepening democracy in Nigeria and is funded with contributions from the European Union, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, and the UNDP.

FOI Suits: Court Orders 2 LG Councils in Delta State to Disclose Budgets, Approved Projects

Prof Bolaji Owasanoye
Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, Executive Director, Human Development Initiative (HDI)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015:  A Federal High Court in Asaba today issued an order of mandamus compelling two local government councils in Delta State –  the Oshimili South and the Ika South Local Government Areas – to disclose to a Lagos-based non-governmental organization, Human Development Initiatives (HDI), the councils’ budgets from 2012 to 2014 and the projects duly approved for implementation in 2013.

The court’s decision was the culmination of a nine-month long litigation by HDI following the refusal of the Local Government Councils to grant its request made under the Freedom of Information Act on February 24, 2014.

Following three separate suits filed on May 15, 2014 by a Lagos lawyer, Mr. Andy Isioma Ogbolu, on behalf of HDI against Oshimili South, Ika South and Oshimili North Local Government Councils, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun-Isola granted HDI leave on May 21, 2014 to apply for:

  • A declaration that the failure and/or refusal by the Councils to disclose and make available to HDI the information sought in its letters of request dated February 24, 2014 amounts to a violation of HDI’s right of access to information as guaranteed by section 1(1) and section 4(a) of the Freedom of information Act, 2011.
  • A declaration that the failure and/or refusal by the Councils to give HDI a written notice that access to all or part of the information requested would not be granted and stating reasons for the denial and the section of the Freedom of information Act upon which the Councils relied to deny HDI access to the information requested in its letters dated February 24, 2014 amounts to a flagrant violation of section 4(b), 7(1), (2) and (3) of Act and is therefore wrongful.
  • An order of mandamus compelling the Councils to disclose and make available to HDI as requested in its letters of February 24, 2014 the Councils’ budgets for the years 2012, 2013 and 2014; documents detailing all projects duly approved for implementation in 2013; the locations of the projects; and the actual cost of each of the projects approved and/or implemented by the Councils in 2013.

At today’s proceedings, the lawyers to the three Councils were absent.  Mr. Ogbolu urged the Court to allow him move the motions before the court and to adopt his written address since the Councils had been duly served with the court processes and were aware that the case was fixed for today.

He argued that it was the duty of the courts and every person in the country to hold governments accountable, arguing that ordinary citizens would be discouraged from using the FOI Act to hold governments accountable if judicial processes were unduly prolonged.

Justice Olatoregun-Isola granted Mr. Ogbolu’s request to be allowed to argue his case.  He therefore moved the motion before the court and adopted his written address.

In a brief ruling, Justice Olatoregun-Isola granted all the prayers sought against Oshimili South and Ika South Local Government Councils.  She however noted that in the suit against Oshimili North Local Government Area, the lawyer representing the Council had raised a preliminary objection, saying she would prefer to hear from him before proceeding further on that case.

The judge therefore adjourned the third case to February 26, 2015 for hearing and ordered that the lawyer to the Council should be issued with a hearing notice advising him of the new date.

Research Report Shows Female Politicians are Poorly Reported

A media content monitoring research conducted by the International Press Centre (IPC) and the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) shows that female political aspirants and candidates are given poor media coverage and that persons living with disabilities “were very poorly used as sources” among other findings.

The “Overview of the Media (Newspapers & Online) Monitoring Report” by IPC and NPC is the findings and outcome of the monitoring of the coverage and reportage of the 2015 elections for the months of November and December, 2014. It monitored twenty-six newspapers, both privately and government owned, three online media and four social media platforms.

IPC and NPC monitored media reportage focusing on five vital issues, namely sources, conflict sensitivity, language, issues, and the electoral management body (EMB).

They monitored to assess the credibility and diversity of the sources in terms of the mentions of political parties contesting the elections; the gender of the politicians; the use of experts; the use of key electoral stakeholders; the use of gender-represented groups like women, youths and persons living with disabilities as sources etc.

The monitoring also sought to assess whether media reports give enough alert about possible outbreak of violence and whether or not they cast sensational headlines that can instigate people into violence.

The exercise also observed the words used or the tone of the reports, monitoring hate speech and the ability to incite people to violence. It examined the focus and dimensions of the electoral reports so as to assess the degree of importance attached to various relevant issues of political and electioneering activities as well as election stakeholders.

The exercise also examined the extent of reportage of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the trend of such reports while also assessing public perception of the independence, performance and accountability of INEC.

Findings from the report also shows that the newspapers performed fairly well in the reportage of INEC as they tried to hold the electoral umpire accountable by publishing many reports in response to demands and complaints.

For the exercise, the NPC monitored: Nigerian Pilot, Abuja Inquirer, Leadership, Peoples Daily, Fresh Facts, Daily Trust, Blueprint, and Desert Herald. IPC on the other hand monitored the following dailies: Daily Sun, The Nation, National Mirror, Vanguard, The Punch, ThisDay, Daily Independent, The Guardian, Nigerian Tribune, and Daily Champion.

IPC also monitored three regional dailies including Daily Star, Nigerian Chronicle and Nigerian Observer. The three online media it monitored were Cable News, Premium Times, and Tide.

The report also found out that the two biggest political parties All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dominated media reporting during the period under review; the few sensational headlines recorded ought to have been avoided because of their potential to cause disaffection as well as inflame passions; and that many stories were published on political and electoral conflicts showing that conflict as against issues have tended to dominate the media space.

For best practices in reporting the election, the report drew the attention of journalists and media houses to the existence of the Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage which provides professional and ethical guidelines for news reporting and political advertisements during elections especially in the contest advising them to abide by it and refrain from reporting on issues which can lead to incitement and hate speech.

National Waves Magazine Journalists Arrested, Detained

Two journalists with National Waves Magazine: Emmanuel Fateman, an Assistant Editor, and Joseph Jolayemi, a graphic artist, are being detained by officers of the special force after they allegedly uncovered a fraudulent deal involving Bauchi State government funds to the tune of N650 million. The duo have been in detention since December 16, 2014.

Jimmy Enyeh, publisher of the magazine said that in August 2014, the magazine uncovered alleged suspicious dealings in respect of a contract worth N650 million awarded to A. A. Oil Company Limited.

He said pursuant to the magazine’s policy of fair and honest reportage, he sought Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar’s side of the story through a letter dated September 1, 2014, titled “Request for reaction on collection N650million for unexecuted contract.” Alhaji Abubakar is the chairman/CEO of A. A. Oil Company Limited.

Enyeh disclosed that: “Despite the foregoing letter, neither Alhaji Aliyu Abubabar nor any representative of his company communicated their version of the story. The story was consequently published on 22nd September 2014.”

He said as soon as the story was published, he started receiving strange threatening phone calls about the story to the effect that the apparatus of the state including the law enforcement agencies will be used to punish him for publishing such the story.

He said further that police officers of the Inspector General of Police special task force on terrorism and heinous crimes, on the instruction of Alhaji Abubakar, served a letter of invitation while he was out of town preparing for National Waves anniversary event.

Enyeh said he informed his lawyer when he learnt of the invitation and suggested a rescheduled meeting adding that the officer refused to the suggested rescheduling promising to get him at all cost since he knew where he was.

Based on the threat, Enyeh reportedly instituted an action at of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory challenging the interference of the IGP Special Task Force on Terrorism and Heinous Crime in an issue perceived to be civil in nature.

In similar vein, Alhaji Abubakar also filed a civil suit before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory seeking various reliefs against National Waves Magazine and Jimmy Enyeh for alleged defamatory publications.

In spite of the two pending cases, the IGP Special Task Force arrested Fateman and Jolayemi and have kept them in detention since.

They remain in detention and have not been charged to any court.

Lagos Social Media Week 2015 set to hold in February

The Lagos Social Media Week 2015, a component of the worldwide conference connecting people and content to promote conversation on media and emerging trend, is scheduled to take place at the Landmark Centre from February 23 to 27, 2015. It is informed by the global event ‘Social Media Week and the theme for the year is “Upwardly Mobile: The Rise of a Connected Africa”, adapted from the global theme “Upwardly Mobile: The Rise of the Connected Class”.

The Selected SMW Lagos 2015 theme is expected to set the stage for thought-provoking and insightful discussions on the impact of mobile technology across Africa. With Africa being the second fastest growing mobile technology market and the largest mobile market in world, it is important to take a critical look at what a connected continent of 1 billion people means for the global economy and the world at large.

The format of the week-long conference will be a mixture of keynotes, panels, workshops, and networking events/mixers that explore a wide range of topics including business, entertainment, education, technology and politics. Social Media Week Lagos is also expected to play host to more than 25,000 people over the course of 5 days as well as enhance the conference’s program offerings to include digital installations, co-working spaces, executive meeting rooms, exhibitions and a pop-up marketplace.

SMW Lagos is free and open to the public. It also attracts some of the most skilled, dynamic and fun loving young Nigerians.

The Social Media Week Lagos 2015 is the third edition of the conference and is significant because it brings together thought leaders, key stakeholders and the public to explore issues that are important for the modern world. It is the largest, tech, new media and business conference on the continent of Africa.

Speakers expected at the event include a wide range of celebrity and media personalities including,  Obiageli Ezekwesili, Senior Economic Advisor, Open Society Foundation; Sound Sultan, Naija Ninjas; Chude Jideonwo, Owner, Red Media; Miriam Elder, Foreign Editor, BuzzFeed; Fade Ogunro, Radio Host/ TV Producer, BEAT 99.9FM/ Film Factory; Jason Njoku, CEO, iROKO; ‘Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria; Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director, Media Rights Agenda; and Yinka Adegoke, Quartz, Editor.

Others are MI Abaga, Musician, Chocolate City; Olamide Adedeji, Channel Manager/Group Channels Producer, Soundcity/ONTV Nigeria, SpiceTV, Televista, Trybe, Access 24; Ohimai Godwin Amaize, Founder, Rethink Nigeria; DJ Jimmy Jatt; Eku Edewor Actress and TV Presenter, Eclipse West Africa; Lanre Da Silva AJayi; Lynxxx, Musician, Record Label Owner; Noble Igwe, CEO, 360 Nobs; Linda Ikeji, Blogger; Funke Babs Kufeji, Assistant Style Editor, This Day Style; Audu Maikori, CEO, Chocolate City Group; Toke Makinwa, Multimedia Personality & Presenter, Rhythm 93.7; and Nnenna Nwakanma, Co-Founder, Free Software & Open Source Foundation for Africa;

Other expected participants are Amaram Nwakpa, Coordinator, Public Policy Initiatives, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation; Tolu Ogunlesi, Journalist, Author; Fatu Ogwuche, New Media Consultant, Independent National Electoral Commission Citizen Contact Centre; Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, CEO, Women Arise for Change; Gbemi Olateru-Olagbegi, Broadcaster/CEO/Media Consultant, The Beat 99.9 FM / Speakerboxx; Japheth Omojuwa, Curator, omojuwa.com; among others.

Visit www.socialmediaweek.org for news, information on the global events, schedule, passes and more details on the event.

Sample Freedom of Information Request Letter

Sample Freedom of Information Request Letter

Your Name
Your Address
Your Telephone Number
Your E-mail Address

Date

The Freedom of Information Officer

(You may also choose to address the letter to the head of the institution, namely: the Permanent Secretary, in the case of a Ministry; the Director-General, in the case of an Agency; or the Managing Director, in the case of a public corporation)

Name of Public Institution
Address of Public Institution

Dear Freedom of Information Officer,

Application for Information/Records/Documents Under the Freedom of Information Act

 In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, 2011, I hereby apply for copies of the following documents:

  1. A copy of the minutes of the meetings of the Procurement Planning Committee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, held on May 28, 2011, at which a the decision was taken to purchase 250 laptop computers for senior officers of the Ministry.
  2. Copies of all correspondence, including emails, between officials of the Ministry of Information and the company known as Blue Skies International, from January 1, 2011 and June 30, 2011, leading to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding dated July 1, 2011.
  3. A list of all the applications for building plan approvals and permits granted by the Ministry of Urban Planning between May 29, 2007 and May 28, 2011. The list should indicate the name of the applicant, the date of the application, the date the application was granted, the type of building approved and the amount paid in fees and charges by each applicant

I would be grateful if you could supply me with photocopies of these documents.

Should you require any clarification regarding this application, please do not hesitate to contact me either by phone (your phone number) or by email (your email address).

I look forward to receiving these documents promptly and, in any event, within 7 days of the receipt of this application, as required by the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

Yours sincerely,

Signature
Your Name

Download the Microsoft Word version of this temple Sample_FOI_Request_Letter

mySociety Holds TICTeC2015 in London, Calls for Session Proposals

mySociety , an e-democracy project from Citizens Online Democracy Organization, will hold the first TICTeC2015 conference in London on March 25, 2015.

According to the organisers, “We think it’s important to conduct research into our services and activities to find out if and how we are really making a difference in the world. We also want to know how other groups are doing, and how they are having an impact on the field of civic technology.”

This is the first in an annual series of conferences, in which mySociety will  focus on the impact that civic technology and digital democracy are having upon citizens, decision makers and governments around the world.

Keynote addresses will be expected from Mr. Ethan Zuckerman and Dr. Shelley Boulianne.

mySociety is calling for session proposals relating to the conference theme. For more information, kindly click here:  www.mysociety.org/tictec

UNESCO Launches OA Curricula for Librarians, Researchers

The United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisations (UNESCO) has launched Open Access (OA) Curricula for librarians and researchers. The curricula are a set of manuals to facilitate capacity building among library and information professionals and researchers.  This is in line with UNESCOs’ Strategy on OA to scientific information and research and to take forward UNESCO’s leadership role in diffusing knowledge amongst its Member States.

According to UNESCO, “The development of the modules has been undertaken very carefully and the development process covered diverse opinion in the subject area, and in consultation with more than 50 experts to include diversity and expertise from the developing south.”

The curricula for Library and Information Science Professionals entitled “Open Access for Library Schools”, consists of four course modules. An Introductory Module aims at sensitizing the library community about the history, evolution, forms and impact of OA within the domain of scholarly communication environment and covers issues related to rights management, IPR and advocacy. The remaining three modules cover subject areas of OA Infrastructure, Resource Optimization and Interoperability and Retrieval.  These sections give insights into the features, types, maintenance and standardization of OA resources, information retrieval/storage software and highlight the role of the new dimension of web-enabled resources such as e-journals, e-repositories and ICTSs.

The curricula for researchers entitled “Open Access for Researchers” addresses OA issues within the community of research scholars. The modules cover the subject areas of Scholarly Communications, Concepts of Openness and Open Access, Intellectual Property Rights and Research Evaluation Metrics. The first four modules have been developed to nurture researchers with an elaborate understanding of the genesis, objectives, processes, types and existing limitations of OA scholarly communication, which include insights into the issues related to IPR, the methods and limitations of the process of peer reviewing and the concepts and roles of E-journals, databases, ICTs, OSS and other OERs. The final and fifth Module entitled “Sharing your Work in Open Access” provides astep-wise guideline for researchers about the process and options available for publishing their research work.

The curricula were developed with the help of Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA), New Delhi of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL).

The curricula will soon be available for download. Currently,  copies can be requested by writing to UNESCO’s OA programme.

UNESCO Holds Women Make the News 2015

The United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) led initiative, Women Make the News (WMN), will take place from March 8 to April 30, 2015 in Paris, France. This program is launched annually on the March 8, the occasion of the International Women’s Day. WMN is a global initiative which aims at fixing global attention on an issue relating to gender equality in and through the media, driving debate and encouraging action-oriented solutions until global objectives are met.

To commemorate the International Women’s Day, UNESCO will be joining forces with the Global Alliance on Media and Gender to launch the Women Make the News 2015 under the theme, “*Yes we must! Reaching Gender Equality in the Media by 2030*”.

This year’s theme is an echo of Women Make the News 2014, *Advancing Global Partnerships to Achieving Gender Equality in and through Media*. UNESCO and its partners are determined to keep up the momentum started by the pioneering Global Alliance on Media and Gender (GAMAG) and to highlight gender and media in the Beijing+20 Review process.

Participants to be present at the event include: editors-in-chief of newspapers, radio, television on and offline to join UNESCO’s initiative, and to produce special supplements/programme on these topics and/or to entrust women journalists and reporters with editorial responsibility for the newsroom for a limited period over the duration of the WMN initiative, from March 1 to May 5, encompassing the International Women’s Day (March 8) and the World Press Freedom Day (May 3).

The WMN 2015 advocacy efforts will also continue to push for change and will include the following features: Promote an increase in female sources interviewed in the news to at least 30%; Invite international development organizations as well as private corporations to pledge to be a part of a donor framework to support the activities of GAMAG; Strengthen cooperation with our media partners and their role in GAMAG; and Shine the spotlight on the necessity of partnerships to achieve the objectives of the Media and Gender critical area of concern of the Beijing Declaration.

Washington, D.C Hosts World’s Media

The 67th World News Media Congress, the 22nd World Editors Forum, and the 25th World Advertising Forum, will take place in Washington, D.C., from June 1 to 3, 2015.

The global event will have participants from about 80 countries in attendance which will make it possible to develop invaluable cooperation, partnership and exchange with the Who’s Who in news media. The target audience and participants are top news executives (publishers, CEOS, Editors, Digital Directors, Advertising Directors, leading journalists) to share and learn about innovation and best-practice. The major aims of the event are:

  • To find out about the latest developments in not only the local and national regions, but, more importantly across the globe
  • To raise and debate critical issues facing our industry
  • To recognize and promote the valiant and courageous work of journalism all over the world
  • To promote press freedom locally, regionally and globally
  • To establish lasting friendships with among news media peers

The 2015 events will be organized in cooperation with the Newspaper Association of America.

To register, visit http://www.wan-ifra.org/dc2015_registration