On January 21, 2013, the Lagos state Government issued a circular barring its political office holders and civil servants, including the heads of the State ministries, departments and agencies, from granting interviews to journalists or speaking on its behalf. It warned of dire consequences if the officials violated the order.
The circular issued by the Head of Service, Mr. Adesegun Ogunlewe, said the directive was from Governor Babatunde Fashola and was meant to sanitise the flow of information from the government to the people.
It observed that “some public officials have formed the habit of granting informal interviews and in the process divulging official information on public policies which are still under consideration and are not yet approved for action by government.”
It directed that any public official who wanted to grant press interview must obtain permission from the Ministry of Information and Strategy, which would moderate it before it goes out to the press and the public.
The circular said the governor has “directed that no government functionary (public servants and public office holders) should grant press interviews or issue press releases without the concurrence of the Ministry of Information and Strategy.”
The circular added that government was aware that officers may be required to represent their political heads and read speeches at events. It warned that such officers must “limit themselves to the contents of the written speeches which must have been cleared appropriately prior to the event by their political heads.”
Despite voluntarily initiating a process to pass a Freedom of Information over five years ago, the Lagos State has not passed its version of the Law even in the face of persistent calls by civil society organizations in the State for the Law to be passed. Lagos State has prevaricated on the issue over the last five years and appears not disposed to passing the law.