By Innocent Anaba & Abdulwahab Abdulah
Lagos lawyer, Mr Bamidele Aturu, has called on Nigerians to insist on the passage of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Bill, presently before the National Assembly, noting that lack of access to official held information is a major road block to the war against corruption in the country.
He also called for stiffer laws against corruption, adding that anti-corruption laws must be strict liability offences, meaning that an accused has the onus to justify how he or she came about his or her wealth and failure to explain oneâ€™s source of wealth should attract the penalty of judicial confiscation.
Aturu who spoke in Lagos at the launch of â€œFoI Bill: Perspective, Prospects and Challenges,â€ said â€œthe non-existence of the FoI Bill law has reduced us to slaves in our country and this is unacceptable and will continue to campaign for the passage of the law regardless of the hurdles placed on our way by those in whose interest it is to maintain and sustain opaqueness in government.â€
On President Umaru Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s promise last year that his government was in support of the law, Aturu said: â€œNothing has been done by the government to justify that position and we would be right to conclude that the government is merely paying lip service to a regime of free access to information.
The only promise we can give our national lawmakers is that we will not rest until the bill becomes law. That means that they cannot rest until they do what our people have been clamouring for by passing the FoI Bill into law.â€