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Frequently Asked Questions - Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

A Requester refers to any person who applies for or requests for information or a record under the FOIA.

A Request refers to any request for information made under the Act.

Public Institution means any legislative, executive, judicial, administrative or advisory body of the government, including boards bureau, committees or commission of the State, and any subsidiary body of those bodies including but not limited to committee 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 funds.

Section 4 of the Freedom of Information Act provides that where information is applied for a public institution to which the application is made shall within 7 (seven) days after the application is received make the information available to the applicant.

Section 7(1) where the government or public institution refuses to give access to a record or information applied for under this Act, or a part thereof, the institution shall state in the notice given to the applicant grounds for the refusal, the specific provision of this Act that it relates to and that the applicant has a right to challenge the decision refusing access and have it reviewed by a court.

The duty of FOI Officers is to provide information to an applicant and where the information is not available, the application will be transferred to the public institution which has greater interest in the information in questions.

An applicant' access to information can denied under the Exemptions provided under sections 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 19.

Section 11: Exemption of International Affairs and Defence;
Section 12: Exemption of Law enforcement and Investigation;
Section 14: Exemption of Personal Information;
Section 15: Exemption of Third Party Information;
Section 16: Exemption of Professional or other privileges conferred by Law;
Section 17: Exemption of Course or Research Material; and
Section 19: denial by a Public Institution to Disclose Records.

An applicant who has been denied access to information or part thereof may apply to either the High Court of a State or Federal High Court for the review(Judicial review) of the matter within 30 (Thirty) days after the denial.

Section 25 (1) of FOI Act provides that Where a Public Institution denies an application for information or a Part thereof on the basis of a provision of this Act, the court shall order the Public Institution to disclose the information or part thereof to the applicant.

The Freedom of Information Act 2011 gives every person a legally enforceable right of access to records; documents and information held by the government or government institutions and agencies as well as private bodies performing public functions providing service or utilizing public funds, subject to certain exceptions.

The FOI Act gives every person the right to access and request information and records. It makes no distinction between citizens and non-citizens.

Section 4 of the FOIA makes it obligatory for a Public Institution to which an application is made, to make the information available to the applicant within 7 days of the application or 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 the reasons for the denial, and the section of the act under which the denial is made.

Section 26 provides for records and information that the Act does not apply, which includes:
(a) Publish 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, National Archives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria behalf of any person or organization other than a government or public institution.

An application under the FOIA need not be made in writing although this is advised. Furthermore an applicant need not demonstrate any specific interest or motive in respect of the information applied for.

Section 3(4) of the Act permits an applicant to make oral application to an authorized official of a government or public institution who in turn, shall reduce the application into writing in a manner prescribed under section 3(1) of the Act.

Section 3(3) provides for illiterate and disable applicant who by virtue of their illiteracy or disability are unable to make application for access to information to apply through a third party.

Section 10 provides that:
It is a criminal offence punishable on conviction by the court With a minimum of 1 year imprisonment for any officer or head of any government or public institution to which this Act applies to willfully destroy any records kept in his custody or attempts to doctor or otherwise alter same before they are released to any person entity or community applying for it.

Section 17 provides that a Public Institution may deny an application for information which contains course or research materials prepared by faculty members?

Section 31 of the act defines a public record or document to mean a record in any form having been prepared or have been or being used, received possessed or under the control of any public or private bodies relating to matters of public interest.

It 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.

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

The Act provides that fees shall be limited to standard charges for document duplication and transcription where necessary.

Proactive disclosure relates to disclosure of documents by a public institution which is not made in response to any request

Section 2(3) of the Act provides comprehensive lists of information or document or records that a public institution shall proactively disclosed to the public.

An FOI officer shall ensure that information released are translated to the applicant in a way that he or she understands.

Section 10 of the Act makes such conduct a criminal offence punishable on conviction by the court with a minimum of one-year imprisonment.