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TAKE ACTION! NIGERIAN COALITION LAUNCHES SIGNATURE CAMPAIGN ON FREEDOM OF INFORMATION BILL

Hurry! The Nigerian Freedom of Information Coalition, led by Media Rights Agenda (MRA), is looking for one million signatures by 28 September to compel the Nigerian federal legislature to finally pass the Freedom of Information Bill into law.

The coalition hopes the petition, to be presented to the National Assembly on this year's International Right to Know Day on 28 September, will get the assembly to pass the bill into law before the end of 2007.

For more than eight years, civil society organisations have pressed for the law, which would give Nigerians access to public records and documents. Earlier this year, the Freedom of Information Bill was passed by both Legislative Chambers of the National Assembly. But the president at the time, Olusegun Obasanjo, failed to sign it into law, claiming that he never got the bill through the official channels and that he was opposed to some sections of it.

"The inordinate delay in passing this bill into law undermines democratic and accountable governance by denying us our fundamental right to know and participate fully in the government of our country," the petition says.

The bill still lies in the National Assembly and needs to be passed onto new President Musa Yar'adua for his assent before it will become law.

The coalition argues that the law would help eliminate corruption in government, get rid of secrecy in public sector transactions, and promote public participation - enhancing people's sense of belonging and improve their trust in the country's leaders.

The petition and sign up forms are available on the MRA and coalition websites: http://www.mediarightsagenda.org; http://www.foicoalition.org. Signed forms can be returned to MRA by mail, or by scanning and emailing them to: [email protected], or faxing to: (+234) (0)1 493 0831

(25 September 2007)

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