Freedom of Information

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION (FOI) OFFICE/Desk

In compliance with relevant extant rule in FOI, the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) established its FOI Committee.

Objectives

  • Coordinate the implementation of and compliance with the FOI Act in RMRDC.
  • Arrange to make records and information in the custody of RMRDC available, subject to specified exemptions and due process.
  • Enhance transparency and accountability of RMRDC and its Officers.

 Mandate of the Freedom of Information Office

  • Process oral or written applications for access to information and records;
  • Liaise with Departments/Divisions/Units to address requests;
  • Manage all requests in collaboration with Legal Services Department at all times;
  • Develop standard charges for documents and transcriptions in RMRDC; and
  • Provide advisory services on FOI.

 Methodology
The Freedom of Information office/Desk, in discharging its duties, shall, at all times, collaborate with the Directorate of Legal Services and other Departments/Divisions/Units in addressing requests and ensure that the laid down procedures are followed at all times as indicated below:

  • Receive request
  • Request the applicant to complete the form or assist
  • Acknowledge receipt of request and register request
  • Review request based on the provision of FOIA
  • Obtain legal opinion on information sought by Applicant
  • Obtain the relevant information from the relevant Department/Division/Unit if not exempted
  • Prepare for response, present before FOI committee and obtain management approval to release
  • Communicate outcome to the applicant
  • Log action taken

Frequently Asked Questions on Freedom of Information


S/NO

QUESTION

RESPONSE

1

What is FOI?

Freedom of Information is an Act that gives one the right to access information from any Public Institution, all companies in which government has a controlling interest and private companies utilizing public funds, providing public services or performing public functions (Section 2(7) FOIA, 2011)

2

Who can make a request under the FOIA?

Any person, group, association or organization can request information under the Act.

3

How do I make a FoI request?

To get information under the FOIA, request must be in writing, describing the information sought for and complying with specific institutional requirements. (e.g, name of applicant, address, phone number etc.)

4

Where do I send an FoI request in RMRDC

All FOI requests are to be directed to the Secretary to the Committee on FOI at the RMRDC Head Office in Abuja.
Your request will receive prompt response if it is appropriately addressed.

5

What can I ask for under the FOIA, 2011?

You can request any agency record in any format, but the agency is not required to create new records or conduct research in response to your request.

6

Are there time limits for which information requested, must be furnished?

Yes.
Unless an exemption applies, the information must, if available, be furnished within 7 working days. (Section 4, FOIA 2011) and an additional 7 days if the application is for a large number of records or consultations are on-going. (Section 6 a-c) FOIA 2011.

7

Are there any sanctions for non-compliance with the FOI Act, 2011?

Yes.
If a public officer or institution conceals, alters or deliberately destroys information, the officer or institution would be liable on conviction to a fine of N500,000.00 (Five hundred thousand Naira only)
(Section 7(5), F0IA 2011)

8

Will I be charged any fee for making FOIA requests?

Yes, a fee will be charged to recover the costs of document duplication (Section 8, FOIA 2011)

9

Are all Records releasable under the FOIA?

No
The FOIA, 2011 gives a person the right to request access to information from public institutions. However, some information are exempted from disclosure and these include but are not limited to:
1. National security records which have been lawfully classified on national security grounds, and remain classified;
2. Records whose disclosure will constitute an unwarranted invasion of an individual's personal privacy;
3. Records compiled for law enforcement purposes;
4.  Records protected from release by statutes other than FOIA.
5. Personal information;
6.Third party information;
7.Professional records;
8.Research materials;
7.Denial by Public Institutions; and
8.Exempted materials.
(Section 12,14,15,16,17,19 & 26 FOIA 2011)

10

Can an Officer of a public institution be convicted for violation of FOI Act?

Yes. It is a criminal offense 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 wilfully destroy any records kept in his custody or attempt to doctor or otherwise alter same before they are released to any person, entity or community applying for it (Section 10), FOIA 2011.

11

Does the Oath of Secrecy Act supersede the FOI Act

No.
The FOI Act supersedes any other Act pertaining to access to information.
(Section 1(1), Section (28) FOIA 2011)

12

Can legal action be instituted against a public institution for refusal to release information?

Yes.
If the information does not fall within the scope of information exempted from release, a public institution can be sued in court for refusing to release it
(Section 1(13), 20 FOIA 2011)

13

Is there a time limit for instituting legal action against a public institution that fails to disclose information

Yes.
Within 30 days after the public institution denies or is deemed to have denied the application.
(Section 20 FoIA 2011)

14

Which court has jurisdiction to handle complaints pertaining to FOI requests

The Federal High Court

15

Are there reports that indicate the number of FOI requests processed in a year?

Yes.
Every public institution is required to generate and submit a report annually to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF). This report should detail the FOI requests processed in the preceding fiscal year.
(Section 29(1)(a) FOIA 2011)

16

What is the deadline for submitting FOI reports

On or before the 1st of February annually
(Section 29(1) FOIA 2011)

17

Can I access the FOI reports of any public institution

Yes
All public institutions are required to make FOI reports publicly available. Additionally, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) must also ensure that these reports are accessible to the public both in physical and electronic forms
(Section 29(2) (3) FOIA 2011)