FOI: Soyinka Tells Jonathan To Make Public Info Preceding Yar'Adua's Death

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LAGOS, July 21, (THEWILL) – President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has been urged to test the Freedom of Information Act he signed into law a few weeks back by making public information on the events that led to the death of former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka made the declaration Thursday at an event hosted by the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) tagged: “Public Purpose: Deeping the FOI Act” inside the MUSON Centre in Lagos.

“I am challenging him (President Jonathan) to use the FOI Act to investigate those involved in the concealment, how was this possible, what documents were involved, whose signature appeared on those documents, was any member of the Senate involved and which public officers were involved.

I am challenging the Jonathan Government and the public to put this FOI Act to test with the melodramatic incidence that happened in this country for more than one year.

“You can say it is the dramatist in me that is looking for materials. But as a citizen, I have a right to know. I am compelling President Jonathan to proceed with the FOI Act by setting up a panel that will find out what happened to the President within this period and make public proceedings of the panel,” he said.

Soyinka added that it was wrong for government to hide under the Official Secret Act to deny the public the opportunity to know what happened to their former President. He opined that the public should be told who secretly shipped the President into the country even though events have since overtaken that episode.

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN in his speech charged Nigerians including the civil society and press to take advantage of the FOI Act as they have a right to ask questions and seek answers on how state resources are being utilized, adding that governance was all about trust.

“People have the right to ask questions on how we are spending their resources. The FOI Act is not legislation for the press alone; it is for the people of Nigeria. But the press and civil society organisations will be at the vanguard of the implementation of the FOI Act. I have already directed the Office of the Head of Service (HOS) to run training for all the public servants on the FOI Act,” Fashola Stated.

Other persons in attendance at the Townhall meeting include Niger State Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, NPAN President and ThisDay owner Nduka Obaigbena, former NPAN President and Patron, Mallam Ismaila Isa Funtua, Canadian Federal Commissioner for Information, Mrs. Suzanne Leagault, Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief, The Punch newspaper, Mr. Ademola Osinubi, Chairman, Daar Communications Plc, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Managing Director/ Editor-in-Chief, The Guardian newspaper, Mr. Emeka Izeze, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa and former Civil Liberty Organisation (CLO) President Ayo Obe amongst others.