Alhaji Isa Sali, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, said the government had provided operational guidelines for the effective implementation of the Freedom of Information Act ( FoI) to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
He said this in Abuja on Thursday at a sensitisation workshop for directorate cadre officers on the implementation of the FOI Act.
Sali, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Establishment, Mr Charles Bonad, said that the guidelines were released through the Ministry of Justice.
He added that the guidelines were to be carefully studied and institutionalised in all MDAs.
The head of service noted that a reporting format had been developed and distributed to all MDAs to ensure uniformity
and standardisation in the reporting process.
``It is pertinent to mention that I have directed all MDAs to establish in-house committees on the FOI Act.
``In due course, the focal desk officer of the in-house committees in the MDAs will be sensitised and trained on all aspects of records management and documents for effective implementation of the Act.''
Bello also called for collaboration among the MDAs in the fight against poor service delivery and urged the
management of MDAs to internalise the contents of the Act for effective service delivery.
Prof . Chidi Odinkalu, the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), warned that ``the nation's security is breached each time official business is transmitted via public domains such as yahoo and Gmail.
``This is because the proprietors of those services are in the U.S.''
Odinkalu described as ironic, a situation where government tagged all information as secret to its citizens but exposed itself via the public domains to the international community.
He called for urgent steps to end official communications on such domains.
The NHRC boss, who presented a paper entitled ``Principles for Successful Implementation of FoI Act in Public Service: Lessons Learnt from other Countries", said continuous use of such domains would expose the country to more dangers.
``The FoI Act should be taken seriously because of the current national crisis and this era of terrorism.''
He also expressed concern about the fact that several government establishments' website were not integrated into a common portal.
Odinkalu said some of the websites were not usually updated, portraying the country as not serious and backward ``in this age of information technology.''
He also called for a national security policy that would articulate short, medium and long term ways to address national issues, saying the last security policy review was done 25 years ago.
``With the new trend in crime and terrorism, Nigeria needs a new policy to address it,'' he added.
In a goodwill message, the Special Assistant to Attorney-General of the Federation, Prof . Peter Akpe, said that
``the FOI Act entrusts to the office of AGF the responsibility of ensuring compliance by MDAs.
``It requires public institutions to submit to the AGF, annual dispositions made by them on the Act in the preceding year.
``I have encouraged compliance and in January, I issued a memorandum advising that all public institutions should submit their reports before the end of February as stipulated by the Act.