The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, Commissioner Lawrence Mute, undertook an advocacy visit to Nigeria from 24 to 27 September 2018 to raise awareness on article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which establishes the right to freedom of expression and access to information. Specifically, the Special Rapporteur sought to evaluate the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that Nigeria adopted in 2011. He met relevant stakeholders in the access to information sector to understand the circumstances and challenges around the implementation of Nigeria’s Freedom of Information Act. Subsequent to this visit, the Special Rapporteur prepared an Advisory Paper and compiled recommendations on how the government and other stakeholders in Nigeria can fully implement the freedom of information law.

Recommendations include:

  1. Amending the Official Secrets Act;
  2. training of civil servants about their obligations under the freedom of information legislative framework
  3. ensure mainstreaming of freedom of information modules in public service training institutions
  4. reviewing and updating existing security classification systems for national security-related public service documents
  5. aligning public service rules with the FOIA
  6. training on the importance of proactive disclosure
  7. enhancing the capacity of information units in all public institutions
  8. developing incentives and sanctions for public institutions to facilitate compliance with proactive disclosure
  9. Ensure proper record management systems
  10. Ensure the independence of the oversight mechanism
  11. Ensure timely implementation of Open Government Partnership action plan and
  12. Enact legislation to protect whistleblowers

It is hoped that the government of Nigeria and other stakeholders will utilise the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations and work towards the effective implementation of the FOIA and the right to access to information as envisaged in article 9 of the African Charter, and other instruments such the Model Law on Access to Information for Africa, Guidelines on Access to Information and Elections in Africa and the Declaration on the Principles of Freedom of Expression in Africa. The right of access to information is a fundamental right that enables the realisation of other rights.

For more information, please contact: 

Project Officer: Expression, Information and Digital Rights Unit

Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 3810

Manager: Expression, Information and Digital Rights Unit

Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 4199


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