Lagos, Monday, 10 July 2017: Media Rights Agenda (MRA) today named the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as the latest inductee into its Freedom of Information (FOI) Hall of Shame for the corporation’s “persistent and unjustifiable violation of the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act over the last six years.’
MRA said the NNPC was chosen for the dubious honour as the latest inductee in the FOI Hall of Shame because despite the huge resources at its disposal which would have enabled it to put in place the proper measures and structures for the effective implementation of the FOI Act, it has chosen to violate the provisions of the Act in every way possible.
In a statement in Lagos, MRA’s Executive Director, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, said: “It really should not be a surprise to anyone that the NNPC has become a cesspool of corruption over the years, having opted for a corporate policy of lack of transparency while resisting all attempts to hold it accountable to both the people of Nigeria and political authorities.”
According to MRA, “In the six years since the enactment of the FOI Act, the NNPC has not submitted any annual report to the Attorney-General of the Federation as required by Section 29(1) of the Act; it has persistently failed to comply with its proactive disclosure obligations under Section 2(3) and (4) of the Act; and has repeatedly refused to disclose information to requesters, opting instead to pay millions of naira in public funds to lawyers to implement its corporate strategy of lack of transparency and accountability.”
MRA accused the NNPC of not only violating the provisions of the FOI Act, but also disregarding with impunity all the directives contained in the Guidelines for the Implementation of the FOI Act, issued by the Attorney-General of the Federation.
It called on the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) and the National Assembly to “take urgent measures to check this unacceptable level of impunity” on the part of the NNPC, saying they have the primary responsibility for ensuring compliance with the FOI Act by all public institutions.
Mr. Ojo said: “It is a matter of serious concern to us that no official or institution of government seems able to call the NNPC to order or to hold it accountable despite numerous reports and audits attesting to the most egregious violations of the provisions of various laws, including the FOI Act, by the corporation. What we see instead is the inexplicable waste of public funds by the NNPC to retain the most expensive lawyers to help it resist any request for information, even of the most mundane type.”
According to him, “it is difficult to understand how it is possible that even in the midst of a blistering war against corruption and despite the various audit reports which have detailed the NNPC’s sharp business practices, violation of regulations, illegal deductions of funds belonging to the Government, failure to account for several billions of naira that should have gone into the federation account and over-deducted funds in subsidy claims, which it has not been able to account for, not a single person in the NNPC has been punished or charged with any offence.”
MRA launched the “FOI Hall of Shame” on July 3 to focus attention on public officials and institutions undermining the effectiveness of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 through the actions, decisions or utterances.