The Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC), a non-government organization monitoring public contracting and procurements processes, has petitioned the National Assembly and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) over the prohibitive charges demanded by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development for access to information.
The group is accusing the Ministry of deliberately frustrating the effectiveness of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and is asking the National Assembly to sanctionthe Ministry.
In a letter addressed to the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on FOI, Honourable Matthew Omegara; the Chairman of the Se
nate Committee on the Judiciary, Human rights and Legal Matters, Senator Umar Dahiru; and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), PPDC said that the Ministry was asking the NGO to pay N65,000 to access information it requested under the FOI Act, which is contrary to the Schedule of Fees prescribed by the AGF and the provisions of the FOI Act.
PPDC said that the Ministry was resorting to this tactic to prevent the organization and its procurement monitors from monitoring its contracting processes in accordance with the Public Procurement Act, (PPA) 2007.
The organization complained that even when it offered to inspect the relevant records, which would not require the Ministry making copies for it, the Ministry insisted that it must first pay N65,000.
PPDC appealed to the National Assembly to intervene and put an end to such blatant acts of impunity and disregard for the law, saying that other public institutions could gradually adopt similar tactics to frustrate the efforts of the National Assembly and the Presidency in ensuring transparency in public institutions if the Ministry of Mine and Steel Development was not called to order.
PPDC also copied President Goodluck Jonathan and the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Procurement in the petition.
The Public and Private Development Centre is a citizen sector organization established to increase citizen participation in governance and development in a way that improves the integrity of public and private sector governance processes particularly through procurement monitoring.