Media Rights Agenda (MRA) commemorated the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) with various activities including a Freedom of Information (FOI) Week from September 25 to 28, 2017 during which it launched the Dirty Dozen Documentary.
The purpose of the FOI Week was to create and raising more awareness on the importance of the right to information and enhance the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act in Nigeria. The #MRAFOIWk17 engagement featured the launching of “The Dirty Dozen” documentary on September 28, 2017 which highlighted the first dozen public officials and institutions inducted into MRA’s FOI Hall of Shame for undermining the implementation of the FOI Act.
The FOI Week kicked off on Monday, September 25 with social media engagements on FOI success stories in Nigeria. This engagement highlighted success stories on the usage and implementation of the Act including experiences from CSOs, media and legal professionals, public institutions and citizens on successful access to information.
On Tuesday, September 26, the session on FOI as a catalyst to transparency, accountability, and good governance focused on citizen usage of the law. This session looked at the importance and procedure of access to information, featured videos of citizens who were asked about their knowledge and perception of the FOI Act, and case studies of how Freedom of Information laws have been used around the world.
During the session, MRA encouraged those who need help with FOI issues to reach out to its in-house FOI facilitator who can guide them through the FOI requesting process and provide help with drafting FOI requests by email to email@example.com or calling the FOI hotline 09032326666. MRA also encouraged mobile phone users to download its FOI App to their Blackberry, Android and Java enabled mobile phones.
Day three session which took place on Wednesday, September 27 focused on FOI and the media, discussing the ways in which the media can use the Act and how it benefits them. The session also drew attention to Nigerian media and journalists who have used the Act in the course of their work.
Finally, the week was crowned on September 28, 2017, the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) with a session that discussed the relationship of FOI and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), FOI and the government, the obligations of public institutions under the FOI Act.
These discussions also highlighted institutions disregarding their duties and obligations under the FOI Act as pointed out by MRA’s FOI Hall of Shame which was launched in July 2017. The FOI Hall of Shame showcases public officials and institutions undermining the effectiveness of the Act through their actions, inactions, decisions or utterances. It informed The Dirty Dozen documentary emphasising the first dozen inductees into the Hall of Shame.
To encourage more participation in the process, MRA released a nomination form for the FOI Hall of Shame allowing members of the public nominate inductees. Offline forms can also be requested by email from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media Rights Agenda concluded the FOI Week by emphasising the importance of the oversight institutions – the Attorney General of the Federation and the House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform Oversight of the National Assembly – and compelling them to take necessary steps to enforce compliance with the FOI Act.
The MRA’s 16-minute video documentary titled: “The Dirty Dozen” which focuses on the first 12 inductees into the FOI Hall of Shame is available for viewing on Youtube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dU7MEisRQqM.