FOI Act Will Accelerate Development Of Maritime Sector


Effective implementation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2011 will accelerate development of the maritime industry and enhance the process of cargo clearance at the ports. This will in turn make it possible for easy access to information on the part of cargo owners, carriers, shipping companies, terminal operators and various government agencies such as the Nigeria Customs Service who are saddled with the responsibility of overseeing cargo clearing process at the ports.

Assistant Director, Legal Services of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Mrs. Ala Green, said this in Lagos at a one-day workshop on The Impact of the FOI Act 2011 on the Maritime Industry: Issues and Perspectives organised by the Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria (MARAN).

“The Freedom of Information Act, if rightly implemented will reduce time within which cargo is taken delivery of and also encourage transparency in cargo clearance thereby improving the revenue earnings of government and its agencies. This also will reduce the challenges facing the nation as a developing nation and an emerging economy”, Green stated.

Also speaking, leading maritime lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Mike Igbokwe advised maritime institutions to respond positively to the Freedom of Information, FoI, Act 2011.

Igbokwe, who chaired the workshop, tasked maritime institutions to comply with provisions of the Act and respond in good time to enquiries made in the public interest.

Igbokwe said: “It is an act to make public records and information available and to also protect public records and personal privacy. Members of the public have the locus standi to institute legal action for non-disclosure of information,” he stated.

Earlier in his address, President of MARAN, Mr. Bolaji Akinola lamented that government agencies had not institutionalized measures to respond to enquiries under the FOI Act.

He said that effective implementation of the Act is in the best interest of the public.

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The Freedom of Information Act 2011, according to him, affects everyone, every issue and every aspect of the Nigerian nation.

He said the Act is the foundation of dismantling secrecy in governance in Nigeria.

“For us as journalists, the FOI Act will enable us access information without the hindrance imposed by the official secret Act. We can now do factual reporting eliminating speculative journalism and building robust public debate. Without necessarily pre-empting what our invited Speakers will say on the topic of the workshop, I believe that the FOI Act will aid and accelerate the growth of the maritime industry,” Akinola stated.

The MARAN President also stated that it is the responsibility of the media to give life to the implementation of the FOI Act.

Apart from journalists, Public Relation Officers of the various agencies in the maritime industry attended the workshop.

Other Speakers included Mr. Emeka Akabogu of Admiralty Resource Services and Mrs. Adeyinka Ajayi of Pottershed Chambers.

—Esther Komolafe

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