Why Oyo is yet to domesticate Freedom of Information Act ― Commissioner

The Oyo State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Oyelami Oyewo, on Tuesday, blamed the previous administration of Abiola Ajimobi in the state for not domesticating the Freedom of Information Act, nine years after it was signed into law at the national level.

Oyewo told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan that matters of domestication of laws would, however, be considered when law reforms were being carried out in the state.

“Domestication of laws is a national act that requires state action and it is a matter of priority.

“There are so many things that we are trying to do. Maybe it will be one of the things that will come on board, I can’t say,” Oyewo said.

But Mr Adebayo Ojo, the former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the Ajimobi administration said the government did not bother domesticating the FOIA because there were other provisions in the state’s laws that could be used to freely access information.

Ojo added that it might amount to duplication to start making new laws that would cater for accessing information.

“It is the same way they requested for a special court to handle economic and financial crimes.

“Soon, people will start requesting for special courts to try slander, libel and media matters.

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“Incidentally, the FOI Act falls under concurrent list which gives states the liberty to either domesticate it or not.

“For me, it is unnecessary to domesticate the Act more so because Oyo State is not a Federal Government agency and so we are free to choose what we want,” Ojo said.

The Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) in Ibadan, Mr John Akintayo, however, posited that the association needed to undertake a holistic study of the law to determine whether there was any reason to domesticate it.

He also said that NBA would ask the committee in charge of human right activities to advise it on the appropriate action to take on whether or not there should be a push for state legislation of the FOIA.

The Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Oyo State, Mr Ademola Babalola, in his opinion, said that he was not surprised that FOI Act was yet to be domesticated in the state.

This, he said, was because the same House of Assembly members could not enact the bill that would guarantee themselves financial autonomy.

He, however, promised that the Oyo NUJ under his watch would do everything possible to ensure that the FOIA was domesticated in the state.

Babalola further stated that the NUJ executives had scheduled a meeting with the leadership of the Oyo State House of Assembly where issues concerning the welfare of journalists in the state as well as the FOIA would be extensively discussed.

NAN recalls that former President Goodluck Jonathan had on May 28, 2011 signed the Freedom of Information Bill into law four days after its passage by the National Assembly. (NAN)

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