Nigeria Freedom Of Information Act / Bill Content : After many years , about 5 years in the Nigeria national assembly, the bill was finally passed, this is as good as Nigerian independence, many analysts see this as the beginning of a corruption free Nigeria.The Act hope to give legal backing request for public information stored in various government ministries across the country. So, be it.

A BILL FOR AN ACT TO MAKE PUBLIC RECORDS AND INFORMATION MORE FREELY AVAILABLE, PROVIDE FOR PUBLIC ACCESS TO PUBLIC RECORDS AND INFORMATION, PROTECT PUBLIC RECORDS AND INFORMATION TO THE EXTENT CONSISTENT WITH THE PUBLIC INTEREST AND THE PROTECTION OF PERSONAL PRIVACY, PROTECT SERVING PUBLIC OFFICERS FROM ADVERSE CONSEQUENCES FOR DISCLOSING CERTAIN KINDS OF OFFICIAL INFORMATION WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION AND ESTABLISH PROCEDURES FOR THE ACHIEVEMENT OF THOSE PURPOSES AND RELATED PURPOSES THEREOF, 2011
[ ]

Commencement
BE IT ENACTED by the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as follows—


1. This Bill may be cited as the Freedom of Information Bill, 2011. Short title.

2. (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act, Law or Regulation, the right of any
person to access or request information, whether or not contained in any written form, which is
in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution howsoever described, is
hereby established.

(2) An applicant herein need not demonstrate any specific interest in the information being
applied for.

(3) Any person entitled to the right to information under this Bill, shall have the right to institute
proceedings in a Court to compel any public institution to comply with the provisions of this
Bill.

Right of access
to records.

3. (1) A public institution shall ensure that it records and keeps information about all its
activities, operations and businesses.

(2) A public institution shall ensure the proper organization and maintenance of all information
in its custody in a manner that facilitates public access to such information.

(3) A public institution shall cause to be published in accordance with subsection (4) of this
section, the following information-

(a) a description of the organization and responsibilities of the institution including
details of the programmes and functions of each division, branch and department of the
institution;

(b) a list of all classes of records under the control of the institution in sufficient detail to
facilitate the exercise of the right to information under this Bill;

(c) a list of all manuals used by employees of the institution in administering or carrying
Information
about
government
institutions.


out any of the programmes or activities of the institution;

(d) a description of documents containing final opinions including concurring and
dissenting opinions as well as orders made in the adjudication of cases;

(e) documents containing substantive rules of the institution;

(f) documents containing statements and interpretations of policy which have been
adopted by the institution;

(g) documents containing final planning policies, recommendations, and decisions;

(h) documents containing factual reports, inspection reports, and studies whether
prepared by or for the institution;

(i) documents containing information relating to the receipt or expenditure of public or
other funds of the institution;

(j) documents containing the names, salaries, titles, and dates of employment of all
employees and officers of the institution;

(k) documents containing the rights of the state, public institutions, or of any private
person(s);

(l) documents containing the name of every official and the final records of voting in all
proceedings of the institution;

(m) a list of files containing applications for any contract, permit, grants, licenses or
agreement;

(n) a list of reports, documents, studies, or publications prepared by independent
contractors for the institution;

(o) a list of materials containing information relating to any grant or contract made by
or between the institution and another public institution or private organization; and

(p) the title and address of the appropriate officer of the institution to whom an
application for information under this Bill should be sent, provided that the failure of
any public institution to publish any information under this subsection shall not
prejudicially affect the public’s right of access to information in the custody of such
public institution.

(4) A public institution shall ensure that information referred to in this section is widely
disseminated and made readily available to members of the public through various means,
including print, electronic and online sources, and at the offices of such public institutions.


(5) A public institution shall update and review information required to be published under this
section periodically, and immediately whenever changes occur.

(6) Any person entitled to the right of access conferred by this Bill shall have the right to
institute proceedings in a Court to compel any public institution to comply with the provisions
of this section.

(7) Public institutions are all authorities whether executive, legislative or judicial agencies,
ministries, and extra-ministerial departments of the government, together with all corporations
established by law and all companies in which government has a controlling interest, and also,
private companies utilizing public funds, providing public services or performing public
functions

4. (1) An application for access to a record or information under this Bill shall be made in
accordance with section 2 of this Bill.

(2) For the purpose of this Bill, any information or record applied for under this Bill that does
not exist in print but can by regulation be produced from a machine, normally used by the
government or public institution shall be deemed to be record under the control of the
Government or public institution.

(3) Illiterate or disabled applicants who by virtue of their illiteracy or disability are unable to
make an application for access to information or record in accordance with the provisions of
subsection (1) above, may make that application through a third party.

(4) An authorized official of a government or public institution to whom an applicant makes an
oral application for information or record, shall reduce the application into writing in the form
prescribed under subsection (1) above and shall provide a copy of the written application to the
applicant.
Request for
access to
records.


5. Where information is applied for under this Bill, the public institution to which the
application is made shall, subject to sections 6, 7, and 8 of this Bill, within 7 days after the
application is received –

(a) make the information available to the applicant;

(b) where the public institution considers that the application should be denied, the
institution shall give written notice to the applicant that access to all or part of the
information will not be granted, stating reasons for the denial, and the section of this Bill
under which the denial is made.


Time for
granting or
refusing
application.

6. (1) Where a public institution receives an application for access to information, and the
institution is of the view that another public institution has greater interest in the information,
the institution to which the application is made may within 3 days but not later than 7 days after
the application is received, transfer the application, and if necessary, the information, to the
other public institution, in which case, the institution transferring the application shall give
Transfer of
application.


written notice of the transfer to the applicant, which notice shall contain a statement informing
the applicant that such decision to transfer the application can be reviewed by a Court.

(2) Where an application is transferred under subsection (1), the application shall be deemed to
have been made to the public institution to which it was transferred on the day the public
institution received it.

(3) For the purpose of subsection (1), a public institution has “a greater interest” in information
if –

(a) the information was originally produced in or for the institution; or

(b) in the case of information not originally produced in or for the public institution,
the institution was the first public institution to receive the information.

7. The public institution may extend the time limit set out in section 5 or subsection 6 (1) in
respect of an application for a time not exceeding 7 days; if –

(a) the application is for a large number of records and meeting the original time limit
would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the public institution; or

(b) consultations are necessary to comply with the application that cannot reasonably be
completed within the original time limit, by giving notice of the extension stating
whether the extension falls under the circumstances set out in paragraphs (a) or (b),
which notice shall contain a statement that the applicant has a right to have the decision
to extend the time limit reviewed by a Court.


Extension of
time limit for
granting or
refusing
application.

8. (1) Where the government or public institution refuses to give access to a record or
information applied for under this Bill, or a part thereof, the institution shall state in the notice
given to the applicant the grounds for the refusal, the specific provision of this Bill that it relates
to and that the applicant has a right to challenge the decision refusing access and have it
reviewed by a Court.

(2) Any notification of denial of any application for information or records shall set forth the
names, designation and signature, of each person responsible for the denial of such application.

(3) The government or public institution shall be required to indicate under subsection (1)
whether the information or record exists.

(4) Where the government or public institution fails to give access to information or record
applied for under this Bill or part thereof within the time limit set out in this Bill, the institution
shall, for the purposes of this Bill, be deemed to have refused to give access.

(5) Where a case of wrongful denial of access is established, the defaulting officer or institution
shall on conviction be liable to a fine of N500,000.00 (Five hundred thousand naira)
Where access is
refused.



9. Fees shall be limited to standard charges for document duplication and transcription where
necessary.


Fees.

10. (1) Every government or public institution shall ensure that it keeps every information or
record about the institution’s operations, personnel, activities and other relevant or related
information or records.

(2) Every government or public institution shall ensure the proper organization and maintenance
of all information or record in its custody, in a manner that facilitates public access to such
information or record under this Bill.

Record keeping
and
maintenance of
records.
11. It shall be a criminal offence punishable on conviction by a competent Court with a
minimum of 1 year imprisonment for any officer or the head of any government or public
institution to which this Bill applies to willfully destroy any records kept in his/her custody or
attempts to doctor or otherwise alter same before they are released to any person, entity or
community applying for it.

Destruction or
falsification of
records.
12. (1) A public institution may deny an application for any information the disclosure of which
may be injurious to the conduct of international affairs and the defence of the Federal Republic
of Nigeria.

(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), an application for information shall not be denied where the
public interest in disclosing the information outweighs whatever injury disclosure would cause.

Exemption of
international
affairs and
defence.

13. (1) A public institution may deny an application for any information which contains—

(a) records complied by any public institution for administrative enforcement
proceedings and by any law enforcement or correctional agency for law enforcement
purposes or for internal matters of a public institution, but only to the extent that
disclosure would—

(i) interfere with pending or actual and reasonably contemplated law enforcement
proceedings conducted by any law enforcement or correctional agency;

(ii) interfere with pending administrative enforcement proceedings conducted by
any public institution;

(iii) deprive a person of a fair trial or an impartial hearing;

(iv) unavoidably disclose the identity of a confidential source;

(v) constitute an invasion of personal privacy under section 15 of this Bill,
however, where the interest of the public would be better served by having such
record being made available, this exemption to disclosure shall not apply;

Exemption of
law
enforcement
and
investigation.


(vi) obstruct an ongoing criminal investigation;

(b) information the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to be injurious to
the security of penal institutions:

Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, an application for information shall
not be denied where the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs whatever
injury that disclosure would cause.

(2) A public institution may deny an application for information that could reasonably be
expected to facilitate the commission of an offence.

(3) For the purposes of paragraph (1) (a), “Investigation” means an investigation that—

(a) pertains to the administration or enforcement of any Acts, law or regulation;

(b) is authorized by or pursuant to any Acts, law or regulation.

14. Every government or public institution must ensure the provision of appropriate training for
its officials on the public’s right to access to information or records held by government or
public institutions, as provided for in this Bill and for the effective implementation of this Bill.

Training of
officials on the
right to
information and
on the effective
implementation
of this Bill.

15. (1) Subject to subsection (2), a public institution shall deny an application for information
that contains personal information. Information exempted under this subsection shall include –

(i) files and personal information maintained with respect to clients, patients, residents,
students, or other individuals receiving social, medical, educational, vocational,
financial, supervisory or custodial care or services directly or indirectly from public
institutions;

(ii) personnel files and personal information maintained with respect to employees,
appointees or elected officials of any public institution or applicants for such positions;

(iii) files and personal information maintained with respect to any applicant, registrant
or licensee by any government and/or public institution cooperating with or engaged in
professional or occupational registration, licensure or discipline;

(iv) information required of any tax payer in connection with the assessment or
collection of any tax unless disclosure is otherwise requested by statute; and

(v) information revealing the identity of persons who file complaints with or provide
information to administrative, investigative, law enforcement or penal agencies on the

Exemption of
personal
information.


commission of any crime.

(2) A public institution shall disclose any information that contains personal information if –

(a) the individual to whom it relates consents to the disclosure;

(b) the information is publicly available.

(3) Where disclosure of any information referred to in this section would be in the public
interest, and if the public interest in the disclosure of such information clearly outweighs the
protection of the privacy of the individual to whom such information relates, the public
institution to whom a request for disclosure is made shall disclose such information subject to
section 13 (2) of this Bill.

16. (1) A public institution shall deny an application for information that contains –

(a) trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person or
business where such trade secrets or information are proprietary, privileged or
confidential, or where disclosure of such trade secrets or information may cause harm
to the interests of the third party:

Provided that nothing contained in this subsection shall be construed as preventing a
person or business from consenting to disclosure;

(b) information the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to interfere with
the contractual or other negotiations of a third party;

(c) proposal and bids for any contract, grants, or agreement, including information
which if it were disclosed would frustrate procurement or give an advantage to any
person.

(2) A public institution shall not, pursuant to subsection (1), deny disclosure of a part of a record
if that part contains the result or product of environmental testing carried out by or on behalf of a
public institution.

(3) Where the public institution discloses information, or a part thereof, that contains the results
of a product or environmental testing, the institution shall at the same time as the information or
part thereof is disclosed provide the applicant with a written explanation of the methods used in
conducting the test.

(4) A public institution shall disclose any information described in paragraph (1) (a), (b) and (c)
if that disclosure would be in the public interest as it relates to public health, public safety or
protection of the environment and, if the public interest in the disclosure clearly outweighs in
importance any financial loss or gain to, or prejudice to the competitive position of or
interference with contractual or other negotiation of a third party.

Exemption of
third party
information.


17. A public institution may deny an application for information that is subject to the following
privileges-

(a) Legal Practitioner-Client privilege;

(b) Health Workers-Client privilege;

(c) Journalism confidentiality privileges; and

(d) Any other professional privileges conferred by an Act.

Exemption of
professional or
other privileges
conferred by
law.

18. A public institution may deny an application for information which contains course materials
or research materials prepared by faculty members.
Exemption of
course or
research
material.

19. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Bill, where an application is made to a public
institution for information which is exempted from disclosure by virtue of this Bill, the
institution shall disclose any part of the information that does not contain such exempted
information.

Severability.
20. A public institution may deny an application for information that contains information
pertaining to –

(a) test questions, scoring keys and other examination data used to administer an
academic examination or determine the qualifications of an application for a license or
employment;

(b) architects’ and engineers’ plans for buildings not constructed in whole or in part
with public funds and for buildings constructed with public funds, to the extent that
disclosure would compromise security; and

(c) library circulation and other records identifying library users with specific materials:

Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, an application for information shall
not be denied where the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs
whatever injury that disclosure would cause.

Denial by a
public
institution to
disclose
records.

21. Any applicant who has been denied access to information, or a part thereof may apply to the
Court for a review of the matter within thirty days after the public institution denies or is
deemed to have denied the application, or within such further time as the Court may either
before or after the expiration of the thirty days fix or allow.

Judicial review.

22. An application made under section 21 shall be heard and determined summarily. Hearing in a
summary way.


23. Notwithstanding anything contrary contained in the Evidence Act, or any regulation made
under it, the Court may, in the course of any proceedings before it arising from an application
under section 21 of this Bill, examine any information to which this Bill applies, that is under
the control of a public institution, and no such information may be withheld from the court on
any ground.

Access to
information by
court.

24. In any proceedings before the Court arising from an application under section 21, the Court
shall take precaution, including when appropriate, receiving representations ex parte and
conducting hearings in camera to avoid the disclosure by the Court or any person of any
information or other material on a basis of which any public institution will be authorized to
disclose the information applied for.
Court to take
precautions
against
disclosing
information.

25. In any proceedings before the Court arising from an application under section 21, the burden
of establishing that the public institution is authorized to deny an application for information or
part thereof shall be on the public institution concerned.

Burden of
proof.

26. (1) Where a public institution denies an application for information, or a part thereof on the
basis of a provision of this Bill, the Court shall order the institution to disclose the information
or part thereof to the applicant —

(i) if the Court determined that the institution is not authorized to deny the application
for information; or

(ii) where the institution is so authorized, but the Court nevertheless determines that the
institution did not have reasonable grounds on which to deny the application;

(iii) where the Court makes a finding that the interest of the public in having the record
being made available is greater and more vital than the interest being served if the
application is denied, in whatever circumstance.

(2) Any order the Court makes in pursuance of this section may be made subject to such
conditions as the Court deems appropriate.

Order to
disclose
information.

27. This Bill does not apply to—

(a) published material or material available for purchase by the public;

(b) Library or museum material made or acquired and preserved solely for public
reference or exhibition purposes; or

(c) material placed in the National Library, the National Museum or the non-public
section of the National Archives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on behalf of any
person or organization other than a government and/or public institution.

Exempted
materials.

28. (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Criminal Code, Penal Code, the Official of
Secrets Act, or any other enactment, no civil or criminal proceedings shall lie against an officer
Protection of
Public Officers,

of any public institution, or against any person acting on behalf of a public institution, and no
proceedings shall lie against such persons thereof, for the disclosure in good faith of any
information, or any part thereof pursuant to this Bill, for any consequences that flow from that
disclosure, or for the failure to give any notice required under this Bill, if care is taken to give
the required notice.

(2) Nothing contained in the Criminal Code or the Official Secrets Act shall prejudicially affect
any public officer who, without authorization discloses to any person, any information which he
reasonably believes to show –

(a) a violation of any law, rule or regulation;

(b) mismanagement, gross waste of funds, fraud, and abuse of authority; or

(c) a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety notwithstanding that
such information was not disclosed pursuant to the provision of this Bill.

(3) No civil or criminal proceedings shall lie against any person receiving the information or
further disclosing it.

Cap. 77 LFN,
1990, Cap 245
LFN, 1990, Cap
335, 1990.

29. (1) The fact that any information in the custody of a public institution is kept by that
institution under security classification or is classified document within the meaning of the
Official Secrets Act does not preclude it from being disclosed pursuant to an application for
disclosure thereof under the provisions of this Bill, but in every case the public institution to
which the application is made shall decide whether such information is of a type referred to in
sections 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, or 20 of this Bill.

(2) If the public institution to which the application in subsection (1) is made, decides that such
information is not a type mentioned in the sections referred to in subsection (1) hereof, access to
such information shall be given to the applicant.

(3) If the public institution to which the application mentioned in subsection (1) is made decides
that such information is of a type mentioned in sections referred to in subsection (1), he shall
give notice to the applicant.

Documents
under
classification,
Cap 335 LFN,
1990.

30. (1) On or before February 1 of each year, each public institution shall submit to the
Attorney-General of the Federation a report which shall cover the preceding fiscal year and
which shall include—

(a) the number of determinations made by the Public Institution not to comply with
applications for information made to such public institution and the reasons for each
such determinations;

(b) the number of appeals made by persons under this Bill, and the reason for the action
upon each appeal that results in a denial of information;

Submission of
reports.


(c) a description of whether a court has upheld the decision of the public institution to
withhold information under such circumstances and a concise description of the scope of
any information withheld;

(d) the number of applications for information pending before the public institution as of
October 31 of the preceding year and the median number of days that such application
had been pending before the public institution as of that date;

(e) the number or applications for information received by the public institution and the
number of applications which the public institution processed;

(f) the median number of days taken by the public institution to process different types of
application for information;

(g) the total amount of fees collected by the public institution to process such
applications; and

(h) the number of full-time staff of the public institution devoted to processing
applications for information, and the total amount expended by the public institution for
processing such applications.

(2) Each public institution shall make such report available to the public, among other means, by
computer and telecommunications, or if computer and telecommunications means have not been
established by the Government or Public Institution, by other electronic means.

(3) The Attorney-General shall make each report, which has been submitted to him, available to
the public in hard copies, online and also at a single electronic access point.

(4) The Attorney General shall notify the Chairman and ranking minority member of the
Committee on Government Reform Oversight of the House of Representatives and the
Chairman and ranking minority member of the Committees on Government Affairs and the
Judiciary of the Senate, not later than April of the year in which each such report is issued, of
the existence of such report and make it available to them in hard copies as well as by electronic
means.

(5) (a)The Attorney-General shall develop reporting and performance guidelines in connection
with reports required by this section and may establish additional requirements for such reports
as the Attorney-General determines may be useful.

(b) The Attorney General shall in his oversight responsibility under this Bill ensure that all
institutions to which this Bill applies comply with the provisions of the Bill.

(6) The Attorney-General shall submit to the National Assembly an annual report on or before
April 1 of each calendar year which shall include for the prior calendar year a listing of the
number of cases arising under this Bill, the exemption involved in each case, the disposition of
such cases, and the cost, fees, and penalties assessed.


(7) Such report shall also include detailed description of the efforts taken by the Ministry of
Justice to encourage all government or public institutions to comply with this Act.

(8) For purposes of this section, the term –

(a) “government” includes any executive department, military department, government
corporation, government controlled corporation, or other establishment in the executive
branch of the government (including the Executive Office of the President), or any other
arm of government, independent or regulatory government agency or public institution;
and

(b) “information” means any term used in this Act in reference to information or record
which includes any information that would be held by a government or public
institution and information subject to the requirements of this Act, when maintained by
any public institution in any format, including electronic format.

31. (1) This Bill is intended to complement and not replace existing procedures for access to
public records and information and is not intended to limit in any way access to those types of
officials information that have, hitherto, been normally available to the general public.

(2) Where the question whether any public record and or information is to be made available,
where that question arises under this Bill, the question shall be determined in accordance with
the provision stated herein, unless otherwise exempted by this Bill.

Complimentary
procedures.

32. In this Bill, unless the text otherwise requires –

“applicant” refers to any person who applies for information under this Bill;

“application” refers to any request for information made under this Bill;

“Court” means a High Court or Federal High Court respectively.

“Foreign State” means any State other than the Federal Republic of Nigeria;

“Information” includes all records, documents and information stored in whatever form,
including written, electronic, visual images, sound, audio recording, etc.

“Public Institution” means any legislative, executive, judicial, administrative or advisory body
of the Government, including boards, bureau, committees or commissions of the State, and any
subsidiary body of those bodies including but not limited to committees and sub-committees
which are supported in whole or in part by public fund or which expends public fund and private
bodies providing public services, performing public functions or utilizing public funds;

“Public record or document” means a record in any form having been prepared, or having been
or being used, received, possessed or under the control of any public or private bodies relating to
Interpretation.



maters of public interest and includes –

(a) any writing on any material;

(b) any information recorded or stored or other devices; and any material subsequently
derived from information so recorded or stored;

(c) any label, marking, or other writing that identifies or describes anything of which it
forms part, or to which it is attached by any means;

(d) any book, card, form, map, plan, graph, or drawing,

(e) any photograph, film, negative, microfilm, tape, or other device in which one or more
visual images are embodied so as to be capable (with or without the aid of some other
equipment) of being reproduced;

“Minister” means the Minister charged with responsibility for information;

“Person” include a corporation sole, and also body of persons whether corporate or incorporate;
acting individually or as a group;

“Personal Information” means any official information held about an identifiable person; but
does not include information that bears on the public duties of public employees and officials.