Nigerian Judge Applies Federal FOI Law to States

21 November 2013

A Nigerian judge has ruled that the federal freedom of information law covers state governments.

The Oyo State High Court said the 2011 FOI law it does not need to be domesticated by any state before taking effect in all the states across the federation.

The presiding judge S.A Akinteye said the National Assembly’s actions  don’t infringe on the autonomy of the states if the legislation is designed to correct a malaise plaguing the country.

The requester, Yomi Ogunlola, on July 23, 2012, asked the clerk of the Oyo State House of Assembly, pursuant to section 2 of the FOI Act, about the funding of the legislators’ wives trip to London.

The Clerk two days later said the FOI law did not apply in Oyo State unless adopted by the state.

The judge wrote “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,” according to quote in an article in This Day Live.

In statement the Africa Freedom of Information Centre welcomed “this progressive interpretation by the Oyo State High Court.”

“We are also pleased with the right to information is applied in the legislature given that many activists and human rights defenders on the continent have paid more attention to application of the right to information in the executive arm of government and less to legislature and judiciary. With the number of African countries adopting RTI laws increasing, good practices like this are vital in strengthening citizens right to information in Africa.”

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