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FOI Bill Suffers Another Set Back In The House

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ABUJA, Dec 16, (THEWILL) - Again, the bill for an Act to make public records and information readily available and also provide for public access to public records, otherwise known as the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill (FOI), was today rejected by the House of Representatives. This is the third time in the present House that the bill would be thrown out by the lawmakers. Chairman of the Committee on Rules and Business, Hon. Ita Enang had in a motion asked the House to allow the bill, which has been in abeyance to be re-committed to the Committee on Information, National Orientation and Justice for a fresh public hearing. He said that it was to rescind the decision made on November 14, 2007, pursuant to Order 15, Rule 8 so that the Bill could be recommitted to the Joint Committee on Information and Justice for the purpose of conducting a public hearing on it. According to Enang, “this is a very innocent application seeking just one prayer; that the Freedom of Information bill be re-committed to the information and national orientation and justice for another public hearing.” However, when the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Usman Bayero Nafada called upon Hon. Ado Dogwa from Kano to second the motion, the member openly turned down the request saying, “Honourable Speaker, I want to say that I am not ready to second this motion.”

Nafada had welcomed the bill explaining that, “The bill is before the Committee of the Whole, we want to refer it to the committee on information to do a thorough job. The seconder to this motion will be Honourable Dogwa.” Although, Hon. Linus Umoh from Akwa-Ibom had eventually supported the motion, members were visibly against the re-committal of the bill and Ita Enang had to call for the motion to be stepped down. The Deputy Speaker consequently ruled that the bill would be stood down for another day to allow for more consultation and perhaps lobbying.