Legal council bags FoI hall of shame award
The Council of Legal Education, CLE, has been inducted into the “Freedom of Information, FOI, Hall of Shame” by Media Rights Agenda, MRA, which accused the institution of consistently failing to comply with its duties and obligations under the FOI Act.
The body in a statement signed by Mr. John Gbadamosi, a Programme Officer at MRA, noted: “It is one of the ironies of the Nigerian condition that an institution that oversees the training of budding lawyers and issues certificates to those adjudged qualified to be admitted into the legal profession in Nigeria has established itself as a serial law-breaker when it should be a fierce advocate and defender of the Rule of Law.”
According to Gbadamosi, “It is difficult to imagine how the Council of Legal Education, while it carries a moral burden of disobeying the law over the years, can have the credibility to instil in young lawyers the concept of the supremacy of the law. It is also not difficult to see why much of the legal profession is in a mess if the institution that oversees their training and induction into the profession has no regard for the law".
Gbadamosi stated that since the enactment of the FOI Act in 2011, the council of has only submitted one annual report to the Attorney General of the Federation on its implementation of the Act, as required by section 29 (1) of the Act. It is therefore in default for six years. He, however, noted that the council has also continued to violate other provisions of the Act with impunity.
According to him, there is no indication anywhere that the council has designated an appropriate officer to whom applications for information should be sent, which means that the council is also in violation of section 2(3) (f) of the Act.
He said even the office of the AGF, the oversight body for the implementation of the FOI Act, which maintains a database of FOI Desk Officers of public institutions, has no record of compliance by the council with the obligation to designate an appropriate official for this role.
He said further that the council has also failed to proactively disclose list of files containing applications for any contract, permit, grant, license or agreement, report, document, study, or publication prepared by independent contractors for the institution; and materials containing information relating to any grant or contract made by or between the institution and another public institution or private organisations, as required by section 2 (3) (e) of the FOI Act.