House Set To Pass FOI Bill, Begins Debate

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LAGOS, Feb 10, (THEWILL) - Apparently worried by the barrage of criticisms that has trailed the non-passage of the Freedom of Information Bill (FOIB), the House of Representatives today revisited the abandoned Bill with a view to passing it into law.

The bill, whose consideration was hitherto rejected by the legislators, was brought up again when the members of the House rescinded their earlier decision.

This position was sequel to a motion sponsored by the Chairman of the ‎House committee on Rules and Business Committee, Hon. Ita Enang (PDP, Akwa Ibom) and 19 others, on “recession under order 9, rule 1 (60) of the House standing orders,” on the FOI bill, the House resolves to “rescind the decision of Wednesday, November 14, 2007 on the said bill.”

They also ordered the re-committal of the FOI bill to the Joint Committee on Information and National Orientation and Justice.

Recall that the representatives had on numerous occasions, rejected attempts by proponents of the bill to re-introduce it on the floor of the House for possible passage due to unexplained reasons, a fact that Hon Enang attested to.

“We are aware that members have requested that this motion be brought to rescind the said decision and recommit it to the Joint committee for scrutiny since the need has arisen for the House to revisit the decision in public interest," he stated.

Earlier this week, the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku had called on the legislators to revisit the FOI bill in order to strengthen democracy and accountability in governance.

He told them, "Freedom of the press is essential to democracy, if we develop our private media very well and allow them to operate, they will rise to be one of the strongest in the world.

"Nigeria should develop a media power because Africa has no voice like the CNN, BBC and Aljazeera,’’ he said.

The National Assembly under the leadership of Senator Ken Nnamani and Alhaji Aminu Masari had passed the bill into law but it failed to become law following former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s refusal to assent to it.