The leadership of the Media Rights Agenda (MRA) on Monday accused the National Commission of Museums and Monuments (NCMM) of working round the clock to frustrate the public right of access to information as well as its statutory duties and obligations under the Freedom of Information Act.
In a statement made available to Newspot in Taraba State, the MRA’s Programme Director, Ayode Longe, said “the situation with NCMM) is truly a national scandal and represents everything that is wrong in Nigeria. ”
Such conduct by a public institution, “making a mockery of the federal government’s claim to transparent and accountable governance he said serves only to bring the government into disrepute.
A few weeks ago, the Commission was said to have written to the international centre for investigative reporting (ICIR)in Abuja demanding N200,00 to respond to the ICIR’s FaoI request for a list of projects implemented in the Commission.
”A Commission which ought to be actively “trying to attract tourists, historians, archaeologists scientists and students among others by proactively providing them with information is the one operating the most abysmal information and communication practices,” Longe said.
Longe said not only has its institutional website been down and inaccessible for at least several weeks now” but has also ” refused to provide information to those who have made requests for information under the FOI Act .”
He also noted that in 2017, when another non-governmental organization, Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC), made a request to the Commission under the FOI Act on its public finance expenditure records, it took the Commission over 60 days to respond to the application, although the Act requires it to do so within seven days.
“Over the last 10 years since the FOI Act came into force, the Commission” according to him “has deliberately breached or disregarded every responsibility legally on imposed on it by the Act as it has consistently refused to submit an annual report to the Attorney-General of the Federation for 10 years.”
He said the Commission failed to designate an FOI Desk Officer, spurned the mandatory requirement for it to proactively publish 16 categories of information; neglected to provide appropriate training for its officials on the public’s right of access to information, among other infractions.”
He said despite the mandatory provisions of Section 13 of the FOI Act, the Commission has not provided appropriate training for its officials on the public’s right to access to information or for the effective implementation of the Act over the last 10 years as required by the Law.
The Commission in question was said to have been established by the Federal Government in 1979 to manage the collection, documentation, conservation and presentation of the national cultural properties to the public for education, enlightenment and entertainment.