Lagos, Monday, April 23, 2018: Media Rights Agenda (MRA) today inducted the Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS) into its Freedom of Information (FOI) Hall of Shame for its lack of transparency about its operations and activities, evidenced by its blatant disregard of the FOI Act.
In a statement in Lagos, MRA’s Director of Programmes, Mr. Ayode Longe, noted that “since the coming into force of the FOI Act in 2011, the Nigerian Prisons Service has not submitted a single annual report on its implementation of the Act, as required by section 29 of the Act as well as the Guidelines for the Implementation of the FOI Act, issued by the Attorney-General of the Federation pursuant to his powers under the Act.”
According to him, there is no information available anywhere on the institution’s handling of requests for information made to it by members of the public, pursuant to the FOI Act, making it difficult to determine the extent of the Nigerian Prisons Service’s responsiveness to requests for information made to it by members of the public.
Mr. Longe said: “By February 1, this year, the Nigerian Prisons Service should have submitted a total of seven annual reports to the Attorney-General of the Federation on its implementation of the FOI Act. But records obtained from the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation show that it has not submitted a single report during this period, a clear violation of its statutory obligations under the Act. As a direct result of the institution’s failure to submit its annual reports, we cannot ascertain the number of applications for information that it received and the number that it has processed or granted in the last seven years.”
He accused the Nigerian Prisons Service of failing to list the classes of records under its control in sufficient detail to facilitate the exercise of the right to information under the Act as well as the manuals used by its employees in administering or carrying out any of the programmes or activities of the institution as part of its proactive publications obligations under Section 2(3)(b) of the Act.
Mr. Longe observed that the institution has also not proactively disclosed documents in its custody, containing factual reports, inspection reports, and studies whether prepared by or for the institution as well as a description of documents containing final opinions, including concurring and dissenting opinions, as required by section 2 of the Act.
In addition, he said, the Nigerian Prisons Service, has failed to proactively disclose any information regarding the names, salaries, titles and dates of employment of all employees and officers of the institution, thereby violating section 2(3) (d)(vi) of the FOI Act.
According to him, the Nigerian Prisons Service also contravened section 2 (3) (d)(i) and (e)(iii) of the Act as it failed to proactively disclose any information relating to the receipt and expenditure of public or other funds of the institution as well as information containing applications for any contracts made by it or between it and another public institution or private organization.
Mr. Longe criticised the Nigerian Prisons Service for not providing appropriate training for its officials to enhance their implementation of the Act and their appreciation of the public’s right of access to information in their custody, thereby violating section 13 of the Act.
He said there was no indication on the institution’s website or anywhere else showing that it has designated an appropriate officer to whom applications for information should be sent, indicating that the Nigerian Prisons Service is also in violation of Section 2(3)(f) of the Act, adding that even the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, the oversight body for the implementation of the FOI Act, which maintains a database of such FOI Desk Officers of public institutions, has no record of compliance by the institution.
Launched by MRA in July 2017, the “FOI Hall of Shame” highlights public officials and institutions that are undermining the effectiveness of the FOI Act through their actions, inactions, utterances, and decisions.
For further information, please contact:
Programme Manager, Freedom of Information
Media Rights Agenda, Lagos