Director of National Orientation Agency (NOA) in Imo State, Mr. Vitus Ekeocha, has stated that the organization has started a sensitization programme on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on rape, gender violence and drug abuse.
Speaking at a one-day interactive forum tagged “Understanding The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) curbing the increasing wave of rape/ gender violence and drug abuse, its effective on the society held at government college Owerri, Imo State, the director said that the NOA nationwide has been directed to implement programmes aimed at understanding the freedom of information Act as well as curbing the increase wave of rape and gender violence.
Okeocha highlighted that the issue of Drug Abuse, trafficking and other social vices in the society are of great concern to government, and that efforts are also being made to ensure that these vices are contained and nipped in the bud, adding that Nigerians FOIA was signed into Law on Monday 28, 2011 after the longest legislative debate in the history of Nigeria which lasted for over 12 years. The law was passed to enable the public to access government information in order to ensure transparency and accountability.
He further disclosed that the freedom of information refers to the right which the public in any society has to access information held by government officials or institutions, it is a fundamental human right established under international law, all citizens of any country and indeed all members of the public are entitled to enjoy this right “Freedom of Information is the right to access information held by government and public institutions.
It steps from the right to freedom of expression which is recognized by Article 19 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights(1948) and states that Freedom of expression encompasses the freedom to seek, receive and impact information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Freedom of information is very important as information is central to human existence without communication, the world will remain in darkness.
Information is critical in decision making, as the quality of decision we often make depend on the quality and volume of information at our disposal”.
Ekeocha projected that FOI Act provides citizens, students researchers and politicians, easy access to information to conduct studies to understand how government processes, policies, systems and functions of public officers and offices work, which act as a vital tool to ensure democracy and responsible governance in Nigeria.