Media Rights Agenda (MRA), a human rights activist group, has announced the induction of Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) into its Freedom of Information (FOI) Hall of Shame due to its disregard of the FOI Act.
Ms. Eseohe Ojo, Programme Manager, Digital Rights, of MRA, said this in a statement released in Lagos on Monday.
She stated that as an institution charged with the provision of a critical public service such as electricity distribution, EKEDC ought to understand the importance of accountability and public access to information and as such should not be found to be refusing to comply with its obligations under the FOI Act.
"The Eko Electricity Distribution Company came into existence following the passage of the Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Bill, which was signed into Law on March 11, 2005 by then President Olusegun Obasanjo," she said.
"The company caters to the southern part of Lagos State and Agbara in Ogun State. Although the company states that it has zero tolerance for any form of anti-customer practice by any staff and has empowered its Anti-corruption and Transparency Unit (ACTU) to thoroughly investigate all reported cases and apply appropriate sanctions where necessary, its actions demonstrate a lack of transparency.”
Noting that EKEDC has been plagued by protests in response to eight months of power outages in some areas, which has resulted into losses, she pointed out that many of the challenges confronting the institution could have been avoided if the company had complied with the provisions of the FOI Act and had chosen to uphold transparency and accountability principles.
Although Ojo commended the company for taking a step in the right direction by publishing its financial reports for 2014, 2015 and 2016 and dedicating a page on its website to its operations, she noted that it needed to publish the 16 categories of information required under the Act, contending that the institution had not even made a dent in the list.
She called on the EKEDC to follow up on its promises of high standards of ethics and safety as well as responsibility towards the community and the environment by complying with provisions of the FOI Act, such as proactively publishing the categories of information directed by Section 2(3) of the Act, which requires every public institution to proactively publish certain categories of information.
Ojo then called on the Board and management team of the EKEDC to take necessary measures to familiarise the institution with the FOI Act and subsequently take steps to comply with its obligation under the Act, saying that a situation where it has remained in perpetual breach of the Law for the past seven years is unacceptable.
The MRA launched the FOI Hall of Shame in July 2017 with the aim of shinning the spotlight on public officials and institutions undermining the effectiveness of the FOI Act through their actions, inactions, utterances and decisions.
Among the institutions that have been inducted into the inglorious hall of fame are Justice Doris Okuwobi of the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja Division; Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Ministry of Information; Justice Iyabo Akinkugbe of the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja Division; Federal Ministry of Education, National Assembly; The Presidency, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA); Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB); Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS).