Accessing information from public authorities is part exercising your right to freedom of expression.
In Nigeria, this is regulated by the Freedom of Information Act (2011)
The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act protects the right to access, receive and share information which is an important part of the right to freedom of expression. The Act ensures that public information can be accessed from public officers without any hindrance and by anyone.
How do I make access to information request in Nigeria? To do this:
This means that, for example, you can request information on the amount of taxes that the federal government collected in 2021, or ask government bodies such as the National Assembly and the Federal Ministry of Education to publish requested information.
Together with the Nigerian Constitution and international treaties which protect freedom of expression in general (discussed in What is freedom of expression and how can I identify a breach to my rights?) there are other laws which regulate the media in Nigeria and freedom of the press.
The National Film and Video Censor Board Act
The National Film and Video Censor Board Act established the National Film and Video Censor Board, which has the duty of checking all films and videos put out for public consumption in order to ensure that they do not violate public peace or public morality.
How can I make a complaint if I think there is unlawful censorship?
The Board welcomes complaints and comments from members of the public about, for example:
Complaints can be lodged to the Board through a number of ways, letters, email faxed to the Director-General/CEO of the Board. Please remember to include the following details to enable speedy response:
You can find this and more information about how the board works and how to make a complaint if there is a case of censorship at https://www.nfvcb.gov.ng/
The National Broadcasting Commission Act
The National Broadcasting Commission Act established the National Broadcasting Commission which is charged with the duty of performing advisory duties and processing applications for licensing media houses in Nigeria.
The Commission has the responsibility of advising the Federal government on the best and innovative way of gathering information and also to make recommendation to the President through the Ministry of information for the granting of the license to own and manage a media house in Nigeria.
International organizations such as the United Nations produce documents to guide countries on how to protect human rights. These documents are called soft law. Unlike the regional and international laws (treaties), these international documents act as guidance to countries on how they can protect rights. They are sometimes referred to as Guidelines, Recommendations, Principles or Declarations.
You can find out more information about these recommendations by reading the principles below:
The African Commission Principle on Freedom of Expression
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in recognizing the need to ensure the right to freedom of expression in Africa, laid down guiding principles which will enable state parties to promote and protect the right to freedom of expression within their territories. Read the Principles here.
General Comments by the United Nations Human Rights Committee
The United Nations Human Rights Committee’s general comments on the right to freedom of expression also provides various principles for the promotion and protection of the right which can be readily accessed here.
African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Resolution on Repealing Criminal defamation laws in Africa.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in its resolution on repealing criminal defamation laws in Africa, while noting that criminal defamation laws constitute a serious interference with freedom of expression, made a number of recommendations to countries who are parties to the African Charter which can be found here.