MRA Names NAFDAC Into ‘FOI Hall of Shame’, Says Health and Wellbeing of All Nigerians at Risk

Mrs. Yetunde Oluremi Oni, Acting Director General, NAFDAC
Mrs. Yetunde Oluremi Oni, Acting Director General, NAFDAC

Lagos, Monday, September 25, 2017:  Media Rights Agenda (MRA) today named the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) this week’s inductee into its Freedom of Information (FOI) Hall of Shame, contending that the agency’s sundry acts of non-compliance with the FOI Act suggest that the health and wellbeing of all Nigerians might be at risk.

In its statement in Lagos announcing NAFDAC’s induction into the FOI Hall of Shame, MRA’s Programme Director, Mr. Ayode Longe, expressed concern over the implications of the agency’s failure to fully implement the provisions of the FOI Act and fulfill its duties and obligations under the Law.

Mr. Longe said:  “The situation with respect to NAFDAC’s non-compliance with the FOI Act is extremely worrisome because the agency regulates a critically important sector touching on the health and wellbeing of all Nigerians and non-Nigerians living in the country. Its failure to perform its duties and obligations under the FOI Act naturally raises questions about the extent to which it is faithfully performing its functions under its enabling Law, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control Act, Cap N1, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.  If NAFDAC cannot be trusted to apply and implement the Law, then it poses a grave risk to the health and wellbeing of all Nigerians.”

He noted that the mandate of NAFDAC is to regulate and control the manufacturing, importation, exportation, distribution, advertisement, sales and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, chemicals, detergents, medical devices and packaged water, among others but accused the agency of consistently failing over the last six years to proactively disclose factual reports, inspection reports and studies, whether prepared by or for the institution by independent contractors, as required by Section 2(3) (d) (iv) of FOI Act.

Mr. Longe argued that “the demonstrable lack of transparency and accountability on the part of an agency that is established to perform such important functions as well as the apparent willingness on its part to disregard the Law as evidenced by its flagrant violation of numerous provisions of the FOI Act are issues that every Nigerian should be worried about, particularly those with authority over NAFDAC.”

MRA acknowledged that NAFDAC had proactively disclosed on its website a description of the institution and its responsibilities as well as details of its programmes and the functions of each division, branch and department of the institution as required under Section 2 (3) (a) of the Act,  but said it failed to proactively published other information which it is statutorily obliged to disclose under the Act.

For instance, the organization said, NAFDAC failed to proactively publish information relating to the receipt or expenditure of public or other funds of the institution; as well as the names, salaries, title and dates of employment of all employees and officers of the institution.

Besides, it added, although NAFDAC had proactively disclosed applicable regulations and guidelines as well as a list of registered products on its website, it has consistently failed to proactively disclose files containing applications  for any contracts, permits, grants, licenses or agreement, or materials containing information relating to any grant or contract made by or between the institution and another public institution or private organization, in accordance with Section 2 (3) (e) of the Act.

MRA also accused NAFDAC of failing to designate an appropriate officer of the institution to whom applications for information under the Act should be sent or proactively publishing the title and address of such an appropriate officer, in accordance with Section 2 (3) (f) of the Act.

It said there is no indication that NAFDAC has trained its staff or officials on the public’s right of access to information or records held by government or public institutions as required by Section 13 of the Act, although the agency had put out information about other training workshops that is has organized to build the capacity of its officers to detect and report Adverse Drug Reactions (ADR).

MRA noted that the submission of annual reports to the Attorney–General of Federation was also one of the obligations of NAFDAC under the FOI Act, adding that in the last six years of the existence of the FOI Act, NAFDAC had not submitted a single annual report to the Attorney-General of Federation, as required by section 29 (1) of the FOI Act.

This failure of NAFDAC to submit its annual reports had made it virtually impossible to determine the number of applications for access to information that the agency receives each year and the number of such applications that it processed and granted for any particular year.

MRA launched the “FOI Hall of Shame” on July 3, 2017 to draw attention to public officials and institutions that are undermining the effectiveness of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 through their actions, inactions, utterances and decisions.

JIMEL Calls for Papers on Fake News, Weaponized Defamation

Michael Epstein, Supervising Editor, JIMEL
Michael Epstein, Supervising Editor, JIMEL

The Journal of International Media & Entertainment Law (JIMEL), in association with the Southwestern Law Review, and Southwestern International Law Journal is now accepting papers on Fake News and Weaponized Defamation.

The intended Papers are expected to have an international or comparative focus that engage historical, contemporary or emerging issues relating to fake news or weaponized defamation. All papers submitted will be fully refereed by a minimum of two specialized referees. Before final acceptance, all referee comments must be considered.

Successful papers will be peer reviewed and distributed during the conference to all attendees. The authors will be given an opportunity to briefly present their papers at the conference. Successful papers will be published in the Journal of International Media and Entertainment Law, the Southwestern Law Review, or the Southwestern Journal of International Law.

Authors whose papers are accepted for publication will be provided with round-trip domestic or international travel to Los Angeles, California, hotel accommodations, and complimentary conference registration.

The Journal of International Media & Entertainment Law is a faculty-edited journal published by the Donald E. Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute at Southwestern Law School, in cooperation with the American Bar Association’s Forum on Communications Law, and the ABA’s Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries.

The Southwestern Law Review and the Southwestern Journal of International Law are honors publications edited by students at Southwestern Law School.

Deadline to submit an abstract is on September 25, 2017 and deadline to submit a completed paper: is on January 5, 2018.

For more information, click: http://www.swlaw.edu/curriculum/honors-programs/law-review-journals/journal-international-media-entertainment-law/global

Nigerian Immigration Service Inducted Into ‘FOI Hall of Shame’

Muhammed Babandede
Muhammed Babandede, Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration

LAGOS, Monday, September 18, 2017: The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) was today named into the Freedom of Information (FOI) Hall of Shame by Media Rights Agenda (MRA) for “egregious acts of non-compliance with the FOI Act” over the last six years, joining 11 other previous recipients of the “award” launched in July this year.

Mr. Ridwan Sulaimon, MRA’s Freedom of Information Programme Manager, who announced the induction of NIS in Lagos, noted that as an agency that has firsthand experience of the devastating consequences of lack of transparency and accountability in its practices and operations, the Immigration Service ought not to require any convincing to mend its ways.

He said: “The management of the Nigerian Immigration Service, an institution whose questionable recruitment process led to an avoidable tragedy in March 2014, should be eager to do more to ensure transparency and accountability in the institution rather than shrouding its activities in secrecy. Such an institution should make the extra effort to provide the public with information on its activities and operations, especially as it is required by law and in the face of its involvement in a tragedy arising from allegations of job racketeering and fraud, which led to arrests, dismissals and court cases.”

Mr. Sulaimon observed that despite having a functioning website and other resources at its disposal, the NIS failed to comply with its obligation to proactively disclose some classes of information in accordance with Section 2(3), (4) and (5) of the FOI Act in what appears to be a deliberate decision to disregard or violate the provisions of the Act.

According to him, There is no discernible reason why the institution has not been able to proactively publish the various categories of information required and ensure that the information is widely disseminated and made readily available to members of the public through various means as required by the Act or at the very least, at its offices across the country and on its website.”

Mr. Sulaimon also noted that In the six years since the enactment of the FOI Act, the Immigration Service has not submitted any annual report to the Attorney-General of the Federation as required by Section 29(1) of the Act. The institution’s failure to submit its annual reports to the Attorney-General of the Federation does it no good. Besides being a violation of the law in itself, this also makes it difficult to ascertain how responsive the institution has been to requests for information from members of the public. These reports would have provided the relevant information about the number of applications for information that it has received annually over the last six years and the number of such applications that it processed, granted or refused, alongside other details that it is required by the Act to provide in its report to the Attorney-General. Instead, there is no information available on its handling of FOI requests including those sent to it in the wake of the aforementioned tragedy.”

Mr. Sulaimon contended that the position of the NIS was made even more untenable by the fact of its non-compliance with Section 2(3)(f) of the Act which requires the agency to designate an appropriate officer to whom applications for information under the Act should be sent and to proactively publish the title and address of the officer.

In addition, he said, “despite the provisions of Section 13 of the Act, there is also no indication that the Immigration Service has provided the required training for its officials on the public’s right of access to information at any time in the last six years.”

MRA explained that these egregious acts of non-compliance with the FOI Act over the last six years, which amount to a flagrant disregard for the law, demonstrated by the NIS has earned it a place in the FOI Hall of Shame and urged the NIS and other public institutions like it, to urgently take necessary steps to ensure the implementation of the FOI Act not only to ensure public access to information but also to improve their image, ensure transparency and accountability of their institutions, and contribute to creating public confidence in them.

MRA launched the “FOI Hall of Shame” on July 3 to draw attention to public officials and institutions that are undermining the effectiveness of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 through their actions, inactions, utterances and decisions.

Oxford Internet Institute Calls for Papers on Reframing ‘Fake News’

Professor Helen Margetts, Director, Oxford Internet Institute
Professor Helen Margetts, Director, Oxford Internet Institute

The Oxford Internet institute, a multi-disciplinary research and teaching department of University of Oxford, dedicated to the social science of the internet, is calling for papers on Reframing ‘Fake News’: Architectures, Influence, and Automation for a special issue of Policy and Internet, the first major peer-reviewed multi-disciplinary journal investigating the impact of the Internet on public policy. The report will be published in September 2018.

The research involves politics, society and ethics that clarify the factors underpinning ‘fake news’ which can help to shape the future regulation of political campaigns, information privacy, and strengthen the democratic function of the Fourth Estate, which reinforces meaningful discourse in a globalized digital world.

The institute accepts research from across the social, cultural and information science disciplines as well as from the digital humanities and other relevant disciplines. Research papers should have clear policy relevance and also make clear policy implications.

This special issues intends to publish a collection of innovative cross-disciplinary work that will shed light on the social, technological, economic and political factors which will enable or encourage the creation, circulation and consumption of fake news and issues to be considered includes: the role of platforms and their architectures and interfaces; the role of data collection and data use for influence operations and the role and regulation of ‘artificial amplification’ and automated systems.

Realizing the relevance of ‘fake news’ as it concerns platforms, data, and politics rising across internet-related disciplines, the institute seeks to assemble a collection of cross-disciplinary research to better frame the underlying problems before solutions are further engaged with. This special issue of Policy and Internet also seeks to explore key factors (e.g., design choices, data practices, or other policy/regulatory factors) that increase the susceptibility of modern information environments to dis/misinformation, external manipulation, and artificial discourse shaping.

The Institute also invites work aligning with one or more of the three areas as follows for consideration:

Architectures and Interfaces which includes designs and technologies that increase the susceptibility of information environments to ‘fake news’, the role of measurement systems and social ‘attention metrics’, economic incentives related to content delivery and recommendation.

Data in Influence Operations which includes Strategies application of data for behaviour (re) targeting and influencing, Accessing success: the use of data in impact evaluation methodologies, The future of data collection: scenarios for protection and cross-jurisdiction enforcement issues

Automated and Regulations which includes classification and impact of ‘bots ‘ and non-human actors , Processes of amplification in coordinated influence campaigns, policy scenarios under different regulatory environments and geopolitical contexts.

Research papers should be between 6000-8000 words and submitted through the journal’s online submission form by October 31, 2017. Submissions will be double-blind peer-reviewed by three reviewers.

Questions about the fit for the issue should be sent to the guest editors at j.albright@columbia.edu while queries about the submission process should be directed to david.sutcliffe@oii.ox.ac.uk, the journal’s managing editor.

Editors’ Guild Conference in Port Harcourt

Mrs Funke Egbemode , President, Nigerian Guild of Editors
Mrs Funke Egbemode , President, Nigerian Guild of Editors

The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) will hold the 13th edition of the All Nigeria Editors’ Conference (ANEC 2017) from September 20 to 24, 2017 in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State” capital.

The focus of this Conference is on the media as a major stakeholder in the nation’s democratic project, which informed the theme for this year’s event: Nigerian Media: Balancing Professionalism, Advocacy and Business.

Among issues to be discussed at the Conference are: the negative impact of prevailing economic downturn; the issue of safety of journalists; the impunity of attack on journalists discharging their constitutional duty of upholding the responsibility and accountability of government etc.

The conference will attract foreign speakers and editors from organizations such as the West African Editors Forum (WAEF), the African Editors Forum (TAEF), the World Editors Forum (WEF) and the World Association of Newspapers (WAN).

A guest speaker, to be announced later, will speak on the conference theme and open up the forum for wider deliberations.

The All Nigeria Editors’ Conference, the largest gathering of Nigerian Editors, apart from the biennial convention, was initiated in 2004 at Ada, in Osun State. It has since been held in different parts of the country. It brings together no fewer than 400 editors and other media professionals from all over the country and beyond to focus on a designated national issue that affects the future and well-being of Nigeria.

African Media Initiative Invites Entries for ZIMEO Excellence in Media Awards

Mr. Eric Chinje, CEO, AMI
Mr. Eric Chinje, CEO, AMI

The African Media Initiative (AMI) is inviting entries from professional journalists in Africa reporting or writing for print, radio, TV and digital platforms for the third edition of the ZIMEO Excellence in Media Awards.

The Zimeo Awards recognises journalism excellence in 12 different areas among which are urban journalism, Maritime economy, Science and Technology, Agriculture and food security, Peace and security, and Energy and infrastructure.

 The other areas where the Awards will recognize excellence are Extractive industries, Media and digital journalism/data journalism, Conservation and Climate Change, Sustainable Development Goals reporting, animal resources and fisheries/biotechnology reporting, and African Union Agenda 2063.

Interested journalists are encouraged to send either single stories/articles or thematic packages in English, French, Portuguese, Arabic and Kiswahili.

A pan African panel of judges will look out for entries which, among other things, demonstrate a high quality of reporting/writing in terms of originality, depth, research rigour, research, investigative enterprise, innovativeness, clarity, proper sourcing, accuracy, exhaustive analysis of the context and background and an above average understanding of the subject matter.

The panel will also look out for entries that are data-driven and use creative digital tools like mapping, crowdsourcing and visualization to help tell the story; communicate the topic in a way that makes the story relevant and engaging to audiences and that contains evidence of its likely social impact or benefit to society; provide, where possible, a pan-African perspective; and are multi-sourced.

The deadline for submission of entries is September 22, 2017 while the winning entries will be awarded during a Media conference to be convened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in November this year.

Entry form is available for download from http://africanmediainitiative.org/zimeo-excellence-in-media-awards-2017-entry-form/.

All entries should be emailed to: zimeoawards@africanmediainitiative.org. Enquiries should be sent to Justus Machio, the Communications and Outreach Assistant at the African Media Initiative jmachio@africanmediainitiative.org.

The African Media Initiative (AMI) is an umbrella organisation that brings media owners together and seeks to find solutions to perennial problems facing the industry such as the lack of financing and solid business models, as well as difficulties in accessing the advertising market or even just good Internet connectivity. The organisation also aims to spur better journalism through various training programmes, including in data and development journalism.

AFEX Asks African Governments to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists

AFEX-CoverThe African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) has called on governments and stakeholders to, as a matter of urgency, institute measures  to ensure that freedom of expression rights are protected and to end impunity for crimes against journalists.

The group expressed serious concern about the issue of safety of journalists and impunity for crimes against critical voices on the Continent. AFEX said impunity for crimes against journalists leads to increased attacks on journalists and dissenting voices adding such is inimical for democracy.

AFEX released a 2017 half-year report which shows that impunity for crimes against journalists, media professionals, activists and citizens remains a worrying trend in Africa. The report titled Freedom of Expression Situation in Africa cites a total of 113 violations from 23 countries out of which only 10 of them, approximately nine percent, received some form of redress.

The AFEX Freedom of Expression (FOE) Situation report documents the attacks on journalists and media houses in Africa from January to June 2017 highlighting 12 categories of violations. Physical attacks and arrests, and detentions were the major types of violations with 32 recorded incidents each. Other documented violations include censorship, nine; online violations, eight; ban/shutdown of media organisations, seven. Six incidents of killing of journalists, the most heinous type of violation, were recorded during the period recorded in six countries.

The report shows that security agents were the major perpetrators of the violations recorded: they accounted for 80 accounting for 70.79% of the 113 violations. Security agents were followed distantly by state officials and individuals who were responsible for 12 violations or 10.61% each.

The report shows that only 10 out of 113 of these violations received some form of redress. It added that no perpetrator was arrested or identified for all six incidents of murder of journalists, four of which were perpetrated by security officials.

AFEX is a continental network of some of the most prominent freedom of expression and media rights organisations in Africa that are also members of the global network of free expression organisations, IFEX. The network is currently made up of twelve organisations spread across West, East, Central, and Southern Africa. AFEX seeks to promote freedom of expression and human rights on the continent through advocacy and campaigns, capacity building to ensure effectiveness of members and other free expression groups in the region.

DSS Agents Brutalise Journalists Covering Union Protest

DSS operatives brutalise journalists in Osun
DSS operatives brutalise journalists in Osun

Two journalists, Timothy Agbor of The Point newspaper and Toba Adedeji of the Osun Defender were on September 11, 2017 brutalised by operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS) while covering a protest by members of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) at the Osun State House of Assembly.

While taking photographs of the NULGE protest while yet on the Gbongan-Osogbo Road on the way to the Osun State House of Assembly, female operative of the DSS, dressed in a black polo shirt, accosted Timothy and demanded to know his mission. He informed the lady he was a journalist and then demanded her identity.

Timothy’s demand of the lady’s identity angered her and she threatened to slap him. Thinking she was bluffing, Timothy made a joke of the threat and she descended on him with a rain of slaps and the journalist retaliated.

This attracted another DSS operative and the two of them began to pummel him. Several kicks on Adedeji pushed him into a drainage channel. Timothy sustained a swollen face and some bruises on his face from the assault.

After Timothy was rescued by NULGE officials, they made further attempt to assault him and he fled. When the security operatives saw him making calls, they returned, seized his mobile phone handset which they smashed on the road.
When Timothy, accompanied by the Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Correspondent Chapel, Hammed Oyegbade; and Secretary, Niyi Ajibola reported the matter at the DSS office, they accused him of attacking a lady.
Secretary to the Osun State Correspondent Chapel of the NUJ, Mr. Olaniyi Ajibola disclosed that on September 12, the DSS sent the sum of N40,000.00 as compensation to Timothy which that the NUJ Chapel rejected and returned.

Soldiers Invade NUJ Secretariat, Brutalise Journalists

NUJ-620x350On September 12, 2017, a detachment of about 20 soldiers invaded the Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Umuahia, Abia State, damaging properties and inflicting injuries on journalitsts.

They assaulted two journalists whom they suspected took their photographs, destroyed some items including phones, iPad, laptops and other working devices as well as some property belonging to the NUJ.

Some journalists who were in the NUJ secretariat at the time of the incident said they saw the convoy of soldiers driving around in a ‘show of force’ and gathered to watch them through windows and balcony only for a detachment of the soldiers to disembark, head for the Secretariat and unleash terror on them.

The soldiers are suspected to be members of ‘Operation Python Dance’ from 14 Brigade, Ohafia in Abia State in the convoy of soldiers parading Umuahia, the Abia State Capital in apparent show of force to tame the rising violence due to armed robbery, kidnapping and the activities of Biafran secessionist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) led by Nnamdi Kanu.

Mr. Bonny Okoro, the state correspondent of The Oracle Today disclosed that one of the soldiers gave him a slap, seized his bag, took out his Samsung tablet and smashed it on the floor. Continuing, he said a second one also stamped his booth on the screen of the tablet, while yet another hit the nuzzle of his rifle on it, thereby smashing it beyond repairs.

Mr. Sunny Nwakanma, correspondent of Daily Times who was also brutalized by the soldiers said his handset was also destroyed by the soldiers.

Maj. Oyegoke Gbadamosi, spokesman for the 14 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Ohafia, who was contacted in a telephone interview expressed shock at hearing about the invasion and promised to look into the incident.

UN Calls for Entries for Ranan Lurie Political Cartoon Awards

Ranan Lurie
Ranan Lurie

The United Nations is calling for entries for the Ranan Lurie Political Cartoon Awards.

Submissions for these awards should reflect fundamental UN principals which include the importance of human dignity, mutual respect and friendship among nations, as well as economic consideration and environmental responsibilities toward each other.

Entries for these awards which may be submitted by any professional individual should consist of political cartoons printed in any publication published anywhere, in any language.

The entry must consist of reproductions only. The cartoon reproductions will be accepted only as published, with the name of publication, language and date included, accompanied by a newspaper reprint and translated into English.

Winning cartoons will be chosen for their high professional standards in art, political analysis of events, projection of events to come, humor, while also reflecting the spirit and principles of the U.N.

Submissions must have been published between September 1, 2016 and October 15, 2017.

The first place winner will receive US$10,000, the second place winner will receive US$5,000 while the third place winner will receive US$3,000.

Application closes on November 15, 2017

For more information click: http://lurieunaward.com/rules.htm