By Chinedu Adonu
ENUGU- AMBASSADOR Jerry Ugokwe has urged journalist in the country to use the freedom of information bill passed into law by the former administration to expose all the corruption and irregularities in the country.
Amb, Igbokwe who initiated the freedom of information bill when he was in the House of Reps, also introduced the anti terrorism bill as well as the South East Oil palm development bill.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Vanguard after delivering a paper during the recent South East Speakers Conference in Enugu, he said he was privileged to have followed the US Congress when the bill was extended to electronic data.
He said, “I lived in the US and at some point there was 9/11. So when I came back my mind was flowing through and I said it is better to make a law that prevents this kind of thing from happening. Even if it happens there will be laws to arrest it, so I introduced the anti terrorism bill.
“For the Freedom of Information bill, I was privileged to have followed it in the US Congress when the bill was extended to electronic data. So I decided that if I ever had the opportunity when I returned to Nigeria I will propose the same bill because it does so many things.
“So when I came back I was elected member of the House of Reps so it was the first private member bill that I presented which passed but the senate didn’t concur in 1999. Then in 2003 when I returned I represented it and it passed but for some reason during transmission to the President they said it was missing; which was a smart way of not signing the bill.
“So the people who came in 2007 when I had gone out to become an ambassador represented the bill intact as it was passed and it was passed and Jonathan eventually signed it.”
About a decade after the law was made, Ambassador Ugokwe says he is not satisfied with its implementation because so many people are not actually using that opportunity.
“We haven’t tasted it, people are still oblivious of the fact that such a bill can expose so many things in the system. So I am encouraging the media to expose the bill even more. To expose the opportunity of people to use those bills; to expose even all these corruption and all those things we are talking. To use the freedom of information bill to ask of information from agencies run by government”, Ugokwe stated.