Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information Act 2011 was passed by the National Assembly on 24th May 2011 and assented to by President Goodluck Jonathan on 28th May 2011.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) supersedes the Official Secrets Act (OSA), originally enacted in 1911, which forbade the unauthorised transmission, obtaining, reproduction, or retention of any classified matter. The Act applies not only to public institutions but also to private organisations providing public services, performing public functions, or utilising public funds.

The underlying philosophy of Freedom of Information is that public servants are custodians of public trust on behalf of a population who have a right to know what they do. In particular, the FOIA promises to remove the aura of mystery and exclusion with which public servants cloak the ordinary operations of government and public institutions. It also seeks to change the way public records and information are managed.

The Act builds on the presumption of openness, by placing on those who wish to keep public information away from the people, the onus of justifying why they must do so.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is an Act that gives a person, group, association, or organisation the right to access information from Government Agencies, Parastatals, Federal Civil Service, Private and Public sector organisations providing public services, etc.

Any person, group, association, organization, etc. can make a request for information under the FOIA. The request must be in writing with a clear description of the information being sought, and in compliance with specific institutional requirements.

To get information under the FOIA, a request must be made either electronically (e.g. email) or by letter in written form, describing the information sought, and the preferred format of the response, in as much detail as possible.

The Legal Unit of the agency is responsible for responding to a FOIA request.

Letters should be addressed as follows.

The Director General,

National Agency for the control of AIDS, NACA

No 3, Ziguinchor Street, Wuse Zone 4,

Abuja, Nigeria.

ATTN: Head – FOIA Officer

Unless an exemption applies, the information, if it is held by the Commission, must be provided to the requester within 7 working days.

Yes. If a staff of the Commission conceals, alters or deliberately destroys information, the staff would be liable to prosecution, with the penalty of a fine of N500,000.00 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) only [Section 7(5)], or imprisonment for a minimum term of one (1) year [Section 10].

While the FOIA gives a person, group, association or organization the right to request access to Federal records, some records are exempted from release. These documents include but are not limited to;

  • National security records which have been lawfully classified on national security grounds and remain classified.
  • Records whose disclosure will constitute an unwarranted invasion of an individual’s personal privacy.
  • Records compiled for law enforcement purposes.
  • Records protected from release by statutes other than FOIA.

FOIA requests should be addressed as follows.

The Director General,

National Agency for the control of AIDS, NACA

No 3, Ziguinchor Street, Wuse Zone 4,

Abuja, Nigeria.

ATTN: FOIA Chairman

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