The Abuja-based International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), a non-profit news agency, has launched a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Help Desk to assist journalists who need help with getting documents or information from Nigerian Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies for stories that they are working on.
All that is required of journalists seeking the assistance of the ICIR FOIA Help Desk in getting the information that they need is to complete an online form available at https://www.icirnigeria.org/icir-foia-help-desk/
The form requires such journalists to provide basic information such as their names, email addresses, their employment status, namely whether they are in employment or are freelancing, the State where they are based, and a description of the information they require.
ICIR’s Executive Director, Mr. Dayo Aiyetan, said the FOIA Help Desk was created to encourage journalists to force the implementation of the FOI Act by using the Law to demand and obtain information from public institutions.
ICIR is an independent, nonprofit news agency that seeks to promote transparency and accountability through investigative reporting. The organization’s mission is to promote good governance and entrench democratic values by reporting, exposing, and combating corruption.
The Center also aims to serve as “a catalyst in encouraging and fostering a tradition of journalistic excellence through creative investigative reporting, online publishing, and training programs.”
Commending the ICIR FOIA Help Desk, the Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Mr. Edetaen Ojo, said: “It is a great initiative and represents a marked departure from the usual tradition in journalism where media organizations or news outlets are in competition with each other, to new model of cooperation, collaboration and assistance in order to better serve not just audience of a particular media organization but the entire society with news and information that help members of the public make better personal, professional, business and political decisions, among others.”
Mr. Ojo pledged MRA’s support for the initiative, saying “we will extend our pro bono litigation assistance to the ICIR FOIA Help Desk by providing legal and litigation assistance to any journalist who seeks information from a Government ministry, department or agency through the platform and is refused access to the information. We will assist such journalists in challenging the denial of access to information in court and in combating impunity in the implementation of the FOI Act.”