Again, Reps step down FOI Bill

The Punch newspaper, Friday, January 15, 2010 (By John amen, Abuja)

The House of Representatives again, stepped down the Freedom of Information Bill on Thursday, failing to keep an earlier promise to discuss it.

The debate on the document was deferred to the “next legislative day”, which by House rules, meant Tuesday next week.

Hon. Demeji BankoleSpeaker, House of Representatives

For the first time, the FOI Bill was the first item listed on the Order Paper of the House for Thursday’s sitting.

In a motion, “Rescission under Order 9, rule 1 (6) of the Standing Orders of the House: Freedom of Information Bill, 2007 (HB, 31)”, by 17 members of the House, they intended to “recommit” the bill to the joint Committee on Information and National Orientation/Justice from the Committee of the Whole.

Deliberations on the bill had stalled at the Committee of the Whole in 2009 after many lawmakers kicked against the bill.

However, re-committing the FOI bill to the joint committee, will give the committee the opportunity to further scrutinize it and conduct a public hearing to allow more comments on the bill from members of the public.

But, as the proceedings of the House began on Thursday, the Speaker, Mr. Dimeji Bankole, read through the order paper and said that the FOI bill would not be discussed because it had not been listed on the Notice Paper for the week.

“Mr. Chairman rules and Business (Mr. Ita Enang), the first motion of the day will not be taken because apparently it was not listed on the Notice Paper.

“It will be stood down till the next legislative day (Tuesday next week)”, Bankole announced and rammed his gavel.

A notice paper is like the timetable of the House for a particular week.

According to its rules, motions scheduled for discussion must be listed on the paper.

But, checks on the notice paper indicated that Bankole erred, as the FOI bill was listed as the second item for deliberations on Wednesday, January 13.

The Rules and Business Committee simply rolled it over to Thursday because it could not be considered on Wednesday.

Enang even announced last week that the House would discuss the bill this week as a major item for the week.

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