Date Published: 03/3/11
Press Release against Senator Abba-Aji's damaging and derogatory statement on FOI Bill
PRESS RELEASE RE: DEMAND ON PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN TO REMOVE FROM OFFICE, SENATOR MOHAMMED ABBA-AJI, SPECIAL ADVISER TO MR. PRESIDENT ON NATIONAL ASSEMBLY MATTERS, IF HE FAILS TO RETRACT FORTHWITH HIS DAMAGING AND DEROGATORY STATEMENT ON FOI BILL.
Shocking to read in our national dailies Tuesday 1 st March 2011, the countermanding position of your Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters, Senator Mohammed Abba-Aji, who insists, according to newspaper reports, that should the Senate tow the fine line of the House of Representatives in passing the Freedom of Information Bill into law, he would stop at nothing to frustrate presidential assent to the bill, as he did during the previous regime. Your Excellency sir, this is unacceptable to the civil and human rights community, particularly coming at a time when your Information and Communications Minister Labaran Maku had last week, rightly hailed the passage of the bill in the House as a panacea for deepening our democracy and good governance and did in fact appeal to the Senate to do same expeditiously, time being of the essence.
In chiding the House of Representatives for its patriotic act of passage of the Bill, Abba-Aji said derogatorily that: “what distinguishes man from animals is the way he handles information, noting that what happens in a house is not for public consumption as everyone has right to privacy.” And that you are under obscure constitutional oaths of secrecy which purportedly restrains you from public disclosure. Senator Abba-Aji must know that government business is not to be clouded and shrouded in the secret chessboards of individuals who desire to mock our Nation’s destiny and toy with her people’s wealth with the sad effect of reducing us embarrassingly to the eternal status of the ‘crippling giant of Africa’.
Although your Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters who is not the Chief Law Officer of the Federation with powers to advise on legal matters, did not cite any provision in our Constitution which he claimed forbade you from subjecting your exalted office to the demands of the Freedom of Information Act, when it eventually comes into existence, he failed to advert his mind to section 14 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 which thrusts sovereignty unto the people from whom you derive your power and authority.
It is therefore required of Senator Abba-Aji to retract his damaging and derogatory statement on FOI Bill and failing retraction, his immediate removal from office.
Sir, Abba-Aji’s game plan appears to want to bring you in conflict with the civil society through making inflammatory anti-people’s statement with a view to practically putting you at greater risks in the presidential election, 2011 faced with the daunting challenges of pulling votes lurked with other candidates.
Mr. President Sir, you will sign our Freedom of Information Bill into law, when it gets to your desk hopefully soon, with a great sense of pride and honour that our country will be an open society in which people’s access to information and participation in government is guarded and revered even by the Abba-Ajis.
Dame Carol Ajie
Rule of Law Advocate; Civil and Human Rights Activist