Coalition for Good Governance and Accountability on Sunday urged sponsors of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill to represent it to the new Assembly as its passage by the previous legislature is now “statute-barred”.
“The FOI Bill has our support as a coalition of Kwarans who desire transparency. However, we are disturbed by the needless pressure on the new Governor to sign a bill that is already statute-barred,” Hassan Omoiya, secretary general of the group, said in a statement in Ilorin, the state capital.
“The FOI Bill passed by the 8th Assembly is now statute-barred since the bill wasn’t assented to by former Governor Abdulfatai Ahmed whose Assembly passed the bill. The bill would have to be represented to the new Assembly. That is the democratic practice all over the world.”
Omoiya said Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq cannot assent to the bill until it goes through the new Assembly all over again.
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“Anything short of that would be against the time-tested parliamentary tradition. The only thing the governor may also do is to urge the new Assembly to fast-track work on it. But he cannot sign it as it is,” he added.
Elites Network for Sustainable Development (ENetSuD), the civic group that sponsored the FOI bill, has ratcheted up pressure on AbdulRazaq to sign it into law.
The group insisted that the governor’s assent would confirm his commitment to run a transparent government.
But Omoiya said the pressure is “definitely misplaced”.
“That is not how things work in constitutional democracies. The appropriate place for the group to go is the new Assembly. As it is, the governor cannot assent to the bill because it is statute-barred,” he added.
“Activism is good for a better society but it should be backed by fair understanding of how things work, especially the law and conventions.”