The Nigerian Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and the Right to Know: Bridging the Gap between Principle and Practice

Jacob U. Agba, Eric Ugor Ogri, Kwita Ojong Adomi


Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights adopted in 1948 declares that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Laudable as the declaration is said to be, the media and citizens of many countries are yet to fully enjoy privileges provided by this law. It is also factual that even in countries where the FOI laws exist; different institutional setbacks seem to have stalled its effective application. This paper therefore set out to examine the extent to which the FOI Act, signed into law in Nigeria in 2011, has facilitated free access to public information as well as guaranteed the public’s Right to Know. The survey research design was used to gather information from the respondents, who were mainly media practitioners and interview and questionnaire were used as instruments of data collection.  Findings revealed that although the passage of the Freedom of Information Act was regarded as a welcome development, information seekers have not been able to fully utilise the law to their advantage to hold public officials accountable to the people. Such challenges as ignorance, denial of access to public information by public officers, executive immunity, exclusion of the private sectors and rigid legal procedures were some of the factors respondents said have impeded accessing public information through the instrumentality of the Freedom of Information Act. And these impediments have made the existence of the FOI Act more in principle than in practice. The researchers therefore recommend that, among other things, information seekers should strive to know their rights within the ambit of the law and public officials should be made to comply with Section 2 of the FOI Act, which mandates them to properly keep public records in a manner that facilitates public access to such records. Also, the law should be amended to cover access to information held by the private sectors.

Keywords: Right to know, FOI Law, Information Seekers, Public Officials

Full Text: PDF
Download the IISTE publication guideline!

To list your conference here. Please contact the administrator of this platform.

Paper submission email:

ISSN (Paper)2224-3267 ISSN (Online)2224-3275

Please add our address "" into your email contact list.

This journal follows ISO 9001 management standard and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Copyright ©