MRA Makes FOI Request to National Films and Videos Censors Board over Banned Documentary


Lagos, Monday, April 22, 2013: Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has made a request under the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 to the National Film and Videos Censors Board (NFVCB) seeking detailed information on the agency’s decision to ban the documentary, “Fueling Poverty”.

The NFVCB,  a Federal Government agency which vets, classifies, and approves films and videos meant for distribution and exhibition in Nigeria, banned the exhibition, distribution and airing of the 30-minute documentary earlier this month saying its contents “are highly provocative and likely to incite or encourage public disorder and undermine national security.”

“Fueling Poverty” documents the pervasive poverty in Nigeria, which it blames on widespread corruption and greed.  It was produced by a young filmmaker, Mr. Ishaya Bako, in partnership with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and released in late 2012.

However, in a letter dated April 8, 2013 signed by Mr. Effiong Inwang, its Head of Legal Services, the NFVCB prohibited the exhibition or distribution of the documentary and warned Mr. Bako not to violate the order against its distribution or exhibition, adding that “all relevant national security agencies are on the alert.”  The agency informed Mr. Bako that a copy of the letter to him has been sent to the Director General of the State Security Services (SSS) and the Inspector General of Police, for their information.

In a Freedom of Information request dated April 18, 2013, signed by MRA’s Executive Director, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, and addressed to the Director-General of the NFVCB, the organization is asking the Board to provide it within seven days, as required by the FOI Act, the following:

Detailed information of the decision-making process regarding vetting, consideration for classification or approval of the documentary, “Fueling Poverty”, produced in 2012 by Mr. Bako in partnership with OSIWA;

Copies of the minutes of all the meetings of officials, officers or relevant organ or organs of the Board where the documentary, “Fueling Poverty”, was discussed, including the meeting or meetings where the decision was taken to prohibit the documentary from distribution and exhibition in Nigeria; and

A copy of the decision of the Board as formally conveyed to the producers of the documentary.