The programme officer
of Global Rights in Nigeria, Mr Tunde Ajala, has stated the importance of Freedom of Information (FOI) Act in promoting transparency in the operations of the extractive industries in Nigeria.
Speaking in a chat with newsmen shortly after a two-day workshop in Port Harcourt Ajala said that the “essence of the workshop was to promote transparency in the extractive sector with respect to their security arrangement.
Ajala said that the voluntary principles which mandate the extractive industries like “the oil and gas as well as the mining companies to respect the rights of host communities can further be implemented, adding that the FOI Act is a step in the right direction.
He noted that the FOI Act makes it easy for people to get access to information on the security arrangement of the oil companies which was formally tagged secret document, adding that legal action can be taken against companies that fail to disclose their security arrangement with respect to human rights.
The programme officer noted that companies are expected to be accountable to what their security men do, adding that the rights of the people must be respected.
In her contribution one of the resource persons, Ann Iyonu from Rights to know, Abuja noted that FOI Act has provided the rights to every individual and people who seek information in all areas, adding that this knwoeldge would even make the extractive industry to be careful of their actions since legal action could be taken against them, failure to disclose information on their operations.
A participant of the workshop, Miss Christy Ikpo from Women Initiative for Transparency and social Justice (WITSOJ) said the capacity building workshop was timely and has opened participants eyes on their right to access information from the extractive industry.
She noted that the FOI Act has removed the issue of secret document which oil companies hide under to violate peoples rights, adding that her NGO would use the knowledge acquired to better the lives of those women whose rights are violated knowing that failure to disclose information would attract a fine of N500,000.