Workshop on Freedom of Information Act kicks-off in Awka

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By Francis Igboemeka

Awka, Nov. 30, 2018 (MOI) Four-Day Training Workshop for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on Freedom of Information (FOI), Act 2011 has kicked off in Awka.

The training, which started on Nov. 26, would be rounded off on Nov. 29.

Inaugurating the workshop, the Anambra State Head of service (HOS), Barr Harry Udu, cautioned against unauthorised release of government information without clearance.

“The rule did  say that we cannot give out information, but that information to be given out must be authorised; that means that somebody has to clear it,’’ Udu said.

The HOS said that there were limitations on how the civil service operates, as it had hierarchy in its governance structure.

Udu noted that certain responsibilities were given to some people, depending on the position they occupy.

The HOS, who called for prudence in the dissemination of information, stressed that there were period information could be twisted.

“Information should be properly managed and must emanate from proper source, as any misinformation may be used against the giver,’’ he said.

He emphasised that some civil servants were still new in service though holding important positions, saying that they should know the norms, so that they would not have problems.

The HOS urged ROLAC to factor in cultural sensibilities in some of the things they do.

He bemoaned leakages of government information, stating that this necessitated government action in administering oath of secrecy to every civil servant.

Udu commended the European Union for financing the project and choosing Anambra State as one of the benefitting states.

He wished the participants in the programme well.

Anambra State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mrs Uju Nwogu represented by Mrs Rita Chinelo Onyeka said that freedom could not be compared to anything.

Nwogu observed that freedom had responsibility or duty attached to it, urging information officers to ensure that they practise responsibly.

In a remark, Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Public Enlightenment, Mrs Obiageliaku Umeadi said that we have duty not only to Anambra State but to humanity at large.

Mrs Umeadi urged the participants to maintain the core values of the state, be exemplary and people of integrity.

She commended the European Union and ROLAC for organising the workshop, enjoining the participants to always exhibit fairness and justice.

In a lecture, the Lead Consultant, Rule of law and Anti-corruption (ROLAC) on freedom of information Mr Walter Duru, said the workshop was being organised by ROLAC in collaboration with FOI Commission.

He noted that ROLAC is a programme funded by EU but managed by the British Council.

Duru enjoined the participants to do an act capable of making people to remember them wherever they find themselves.

Any opportunity you have, leave your footsteps on the sands of time, so that posterity will not forget you,’’ he said.

Mr Duru stressed that in 2011, the freedom of information Act was passed into law to enable the public to access information on rule of law.

Duru said: “the FOI is out to make public officers accountable for their official acts; it is the right of every citizen to have access to information.

“Anywhere you find yourselves, think of the larger society,’’ he said.

The workshop attracted important dignitaries including the Acting Director, Information Mr Anthony Nweke. (MOI)

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