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Nigerian FOI frenzy

Martin Rosenbaum | 00:03 UK time, Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Does discussing freedom of information send people into a frenzy?

Not normally in my experience, but it did apparently have this effect last week in the Nigerian Parliament.

Proceedings in the House of Representatives were held up for more than 20 minutes after members rejected a proposed FOI BIll. According to one report, 'Members went into a frenzy, giving one another pat on the back after a resounding 'nay' ended a protracted debate on whether to debate the report.'

The Bill was rejected despite the fact that the Deputy Speaker apparently tried to confuse opponents by framing the motion in such a convoluted way that a 'nay' shout actually counted as support for the Bill.

The report continues: 'The confused members, who did not understand the question shouted 'nay.' But when they realized the meaning of what they chorused, they started shouting against the question. Members ignored the plea of the deputy speaker that the House had handled a more delicate issue and that the House would equally handle the present issue. His call for the House to collapse into an executive session was rejected, as members spoke into their microphone simultaneously, shouting No! No! No!'.

FOI laws are being adopted by an increasing number of countries internationally but not it seems for the moment in Nigeria.

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