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FOI BILL: GROUPS TACKLE SENATOR OVER COMMENT

By NBF News

The Freedom of Information Coalition and the Africa Freedom of Information Centre comprising Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and Coalition on the Right to Information have berated the Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Mr. Iyiola Omisore, over a statement credited to him that the National Assembly could not pass the Freedom of Information bill because some media executives were unwilling to allow the inclusion of penalties for the publication of falsehood.

Omisore reportedly made the comment on Monday in Ibadan, Oyo State at a guest forum of the state chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists.

In a letter by AFIC addressed to Senate President, David Mark, in which the Speaker, House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, was copied, the group stressed the right of Nigerians to information.

It said this right was in line with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, of which Nigeria is a signatory.

''We also like to bring to the attention of legislators that freedom of information goes beyond journalists or any particular segment of the population.

'It is a matter for every citizen, irrespective of social status, gender, colour or race,' it said.

The group further said that it was concerned over the delay and lack of progress on the bill, whose passage and implementation would impact positively on governance and other sectors of the economy.

Also, the FoI Coalition in a statement by its Coordinator, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, said it was difficult to understand how the existence of a Freedom of Information Act intended to allow Nigerians, access to quality information, constituted an instrument to fabricate or publish falsehood.