By Tordue Salem

ABUJA—The Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill may afterall be shelved by the National Assembly, a member of the House of Representatives, Ahman Pategi (PDP/ Kwara) said yesterday.

Mr. Pategi who spoke at a World Bank Training Forum for Journalists, said most of his colleagues were against the Bill, which they view as “press bill”.

Lawmakers in the House of Representatives had three times rejected the Bill on the floor.
The lawmakers think the Bill will be a witch-hunt tool for the media against the political establishment if passed into law.

In his response to some questions by the Canadian moderator of the forum, Chris Cobb, Pategi explained that the nation’s politicians, whether in office or out of office, are wary of granting the media access to all kinds of information.

“This is not to say that we as parliamentarians are not interested in assisting journalists to do their work.

“We appreciate their concerns and positions on the Freedom of Information Bill, and we are working on them.

“This bill, although it has not yet been passed in Nigeria , was earlier passed by the last National Assembly, but was not assented to by the former President.

“The reasons are obvious, and we know them. And because of them I am afraid that the bill will not be passed in the life of this present National Assembly,” he said.

The Bill was initiated by the Media Rights Agenda in 1999, but was adopted by Abike Dabiri, Duro Meseko, Dipo Oyedokun and Emeka Ihedioha in 2003.


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