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Legislators delay passage of Freedom of Information Bill

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an 8 May 2008 IFJ media release:

IFJ Calls on Nigerian Legislators to Stop Delaying Passage of Freedom of Information Bill

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the members of Nigeria's House of Representatives to stop delaying the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill after its consideration was deferred for the fifth time last week.

"We are very disappointed by this new rejection without any valid reason of the FOI bill by the House of Representatives," said Gabriel Baglo, the Director of the IFJ Africa Office. "We condemn this setback, which reveals that some members of the House are afraid of a bill that may lead to exposure of corruption and other illegal or unethical activities."

During its plenary session on 28 April the House of Representatives voted against the consideration of the bill at the committee stage. It is the fifth time that the bill had been listed for consideration.

According to the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), the bill was put out for another day because members said they "were not disposed to discussing it that day."

"To continue to delay the passage of this bill is to betray the mandate and confidence of the masses of this country the honourable members represent," said Shu'aibu Usman Leman, the National Secretary of the NUJ.

If passed into law, the FOI bill will allow Nigerian citizens, researchers and the media to have access to information on government business, from government agencies or from private bodies performing public functions. The bill has been pending in Parliament since 1999.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide.

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