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MRA Inducts Onu’s Science and Tech Ministry into‘FOI Hall of Shame’

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The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology under the leadership of Dr. Christopher Ogbonnaya Onu has been inducted into the ‘FOI Hall of Shame’ by Media Rights Agenda (MRA) for alleged blatant disregard of the Act Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011 in the past seven years, reports ITRealms.

 

Ms Morisola Alaba, MRA’s Legal Officer, said that “In the last seven years since the enactment of the FOI Act, the ministry has not submitted a single annual report on its implementation of the Law, thus violating section 29 of the Act and the Guidelines for the Implementation of the FOI Act, issued by the Attorney-General of the Federation pursuant to his powers under the Act.”

 

She noted that the ministry whose vision is to make Nigeria one of the acknowledged leaders of the scientifically and technologically developed nations of the world deliberately disregards the FOI Act which is aimed at enabling citizens to be aware of the operations, businesses and activities of Government, including all public institutions, in order to make informed decisions in all aspects of their lives.

 

Although the ministry has published on its website a description of the organisation and its responsibilities, including details of the programmes and functions of each of its departments, it nonetheless failed to publish a list of description of documents containing final opinion including concurring and dissenting opinions.

 

Ms Alaba added that “there is also no indication whatsoever that the ministry has provided the appropriate training for its officials on the public’s right of access to information or records held by the ministry or trained them to effectively implement the Act, as it is required to do by section 13 of the FOI Act.”

 

She further said that the ministry, whose mandate includes acquisition and application of science, technology and innovation contribution to increase agricultural and livestock production; creation of technology infrastructure and knowledge base to facilitate its wide application for development; and application of natural medicine resources and technologies for health sector development, among others has failed to acknowledge the FOI Act in order to make information relevant to its mandate readily available.

 

According to Ms Alaba, the ministry failed to proactively disclose list of files containing applications for any contract, permit, grant, licenses or agreement, reports, documents, studies, or publications prepared by independent contractors for institution; and materials containing information relating to any grant or contract made by or between the institution and another public institution or private organisation, as required by section 2 (3) (e) of the FOI Act.

 

She stated that although the ministry has names and profiles of its management staff on its website, it failed to disclose the names, salaries, titles and dates of employment of all employees of the institution, as required by section 2 (3) (d) (vi) of the Act.

 

Ms Alaba said the ministry also failed to disclose information on documents containing final planning policies, recommendations, and decisions as well as information relating to the receipt or expenditure of public or other funds of the institution in violation of section 2 (3) (iii) and  (v) of the FOI Act.

 

She added: “Although we cannot determine at this point the scale of non-responsiveness by the Ministry to requests for information from members of the public owing to its failure to submit annual reports for 2011 to 2017, which would have provided that vital information, we know for a fact that it has failed to respond to FOI requests from civil society organizations such as the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) and Paradigm Initiative.  Instead of providing the information in accordance with the Law, it has opted to waste public funds defending the refusal to disclose the requested information in court.”

 

Ms Alaba  said there was no indication on the ministry’s website or anywhere else that it has designated an appropriate officer to whom applications for information should be sent, and accused the ministry of also violating Section 2(3)(f) of the Act, adding that even the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, the oversight body for the implementation of the FOI Act, which maintains a database of such FOI Desk Officers of public institutions, has no record of compliance by the ministry.

 

Launched by MRA in July 2017, the “FOI Hall of Shame” highlights public officials and institutions that are undermining the effectiveness of the FOI Act through their actions, inactions, utterances, and decisions.

 


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Court Dismisses Base Stations Lawsuit Against ATC, MTN

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ATC Nigeria, a subsidiary of American Tower Corporation, and MTN Nigeria scored a major victory in court last week over constructing or operating base transceiver stations “within close proximity” to stations owned by IHS Towers Nigeria.

The lawsuit against the two had been filed by non-profit organisation, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) Resource Centre, in November 2023.

Additionally, HEDA also filed a contempt of court case against ATC Nigeria’s CEO, Errol Ambler-Smith, seeking his arrest, which HEDA later withdrew.

ATC Nigeria announced that on Friday, June 21, 2024, the court struck out HEDA’s suit against ATC Nigeria and MTN Nigeria on the grounds that it was speculative and failed to disclose any reasonable cause of action.

American Tower said it has “always been and remains committed to upholding” the highest standards of legal compliance and operational integrity in all its activities.

“We are pleased that the court recognised the speculative nature of HEDA’s lawsuit, and we are hopeful that this outcome will send a message to other similar potential speculative lawsuits. We appreciate the support and understanding of all our stakeholders as we continue to invest in, and provide critical infrastructure for, Nigeria’s telecommunications industry,” ATC Nigeria said in a statement.


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Airtel Boosts Sickle Cell Awareness with CrimsonBow Initiative Collaboration

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In commemoration of this year’s World Sickle Cell Day, Airtel Nigeria partnered with the CrimsonBow Sickle Cell Initiative to host a well-attended sickle cell awareness and clinic over the weekend, at Dansol Primary School, Ikeja, Lagos.

The event which aimed at improving sickle cell education and supporting individuals living with sickle cell disease, featured free counselling for sickle cell patients, free medical testing, drug dispensing, and sensitization sessions to educate the public about the sickle cell disease.

Through the partnership, much-needed support and resources were provided to affected individuals while promoting early detection and proper management of the condition.

Commenting on the involvement of Airtel in the program, Chief Commercial Officer, Airtel Nigeria, Femi Oshinlaja, emphasized Airtel’s dedication to good health as part of the telecommunication company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals.

“We are proud to partner with CrimsonBow Sickle Cell Initiative in this important endeavour, as it reflects our commitment to corporate social responsibility and improving community health outcomes. The goal of this partnership is to provide crucial support to individuals living with sickle cell disease and to help raise awareness about the condition.

“Through this partnership, we strongly hope to make a positive impact on the lives of those affected,” he said.

Speaking at the event, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, CrimsonBow Sickle Cell Initiative, Timi Edwin, expressed gratitude to Airtel. In her remarks, “This partnership with Airtel Nigeria allows us to extend our reach and provide essential services to more individuals living with sickle cell disease. We appreciate Airtel Nigeria for their support in making this event possible.”

Airtel Nigeria has continued to reinforce its position as an organization committed to the well-being of the society through various corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Asides initiative partnerships like this to combat the challenges faced by individuals living with sickle cell disease, they continue to make strides under several CSR initiatives, contributing to the overall effort to enhance the general wellness of Nigerians.

 


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Tinubu appoints Tunji Bello as CEO of FCCPC

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President Bola Tinubu has appointed Olatunji Bello as the new Chief Executive Officer/Executive Vice-Chairman of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, who disclosed this in a statement on Monday, noted that the appointment is pending confirmation by the Senate.

He said that the President expects that the new Chief Executive Officer of this important agency will ensure the holistic realization of the Commission’s mandate of protecting and promoting the interest and welfare of Nigerian consumers and ensuring the adoption of measures to guarantee the safety and quality of goods and services.

Bello, who is a lawyer, administrator, and renowned journalist, is the former secretary to the Lagos State Government and holds a Master’s degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos.

“He studied Law at the same university and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2002,” the statement read.

“Bello began his career in journalism at the Concord Newspapers in 1985 and held the positions of Group Political Editor; Sunday Concord Editor, and Editor, National Concord.

“He is a winner of the US Alfred Friendly Press Fellowship and was appointed the Chairman, Editorial Board of THISDAY Newspapers in 2001.

“He also served as Commissioner for Environment under various administrations in Lagos State.


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