Lawyer Says FOI Can Expose NFF
Published: August 24, 2012
Lawyer Says FOI Can Expose NFF A Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist, Barrister Idayat Hassan has come out with a declaration that the much-talked about Freedom of Information (FoI) Act can go a long way to aid sportswriters in exposing corruption and other ills in Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

The female legal practitioner stated as much during a socio-political and human angle enlightenment programme with Lagos-based sportswriters, while also noting that the law that was passed after several months of delay in the national assembly is not only for journalists covering politics and government matters.

“We can use the Freedom of Information Law in football matters,” Hassan told her stunned audience at Ikeja, Lagos. “All it will entail is for a sportswriter to formally request from officials in the NF detailed information, classified records, minutes of meetings and accounts of annual monetary grants from FIFA.”

While also scoring sportswriters low in the area of exposing social ills and vices affecting football in the country – like sexual harassment of female footballers by male coaches, Hassan stated further that the NF is compelled to make known hidden material, once a journalist applies for the document under the FoI law.

“The NFF officials are liable to reveal information about critical issues and matters on demand within a spate of 30 days,” she explained.
“If the officials want to refuse a demand for such information, they will have to given credible reasons, then establish and justify why suchg information cannot be given the journalists who asked for it.”

In a similar vein, a former journalist, Chido Onumah, who is now coordinator of African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, stated that, for Nigerian football to grow, reporters have to put their ear to the ground and go beyond merely reporting events as they happened in public.

“Sports journalists must also sniff for any other element, including gender issues, racism, social bias, sexual abuse, favouritism and corruption, as it affects personalities in the sector,” Onumah said, while admitting that Nigerian journalists face dire challenges of unpaid salaries and entwinement in the general social malaise that is affecting the country.

Sam O'Femi Fasetire
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