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MRA Inducts Onu’s Science and Tech Ministry into‘FOI Hall of Shame’

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Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, minister of Science and Technology

The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology under the leadership of Dr. Christopher Ogbonnaya Onu has been inducted into the ‘FOI Hall of Shame’ by Media Rights Agenda (MRA) for alleged blatant disregard of the Act Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011 in the past seven years, reports ITRealms.

 

Ms Morisola Alaba, MRA’s Legal Officer, said that “In the last seven years since the enactment of the FOI Act, the ministry has not submitted a single annual report on its implementation of the Law, thus violating section 29 of the Act and the Guidelines for the Implementation of the FOI Act, issued by the Attorney-General of the Federation pursuant to his powers under the Act.”

 

She noted that the ministry whose vision is to make Nigeria one of the acknowledged leaders of the scientifically and technologically developed nations of the world deliberately disregards the FOI Act which is aimed at enabling citizens to be aware of the operations, businesses and activities of Government, including all public institutions, in order to make informed decisions in all aspects of their lives.

 

Although the ministry has published on its website a description of the organisation and its responsibilities, including details of the programmes and functions of each of its departments, it nonetheless failed to publish a list of description of documents containing final opinion including concurring and dissenting opinions.

 

Ms Alaba added that “there is also no indication whatsoever that the ministry has provided the appropriate training for its officials on the public’s right of access to information or records held by the ministry or trained them to effectively implement the Act, as it is required to do by section 13 of the FOI Act.”

 

She further said that the ministry, whose mandate includes acquisition and application of science, technology and innovation contribution to increase agricultural and livestock production; creation of technology infrastructure and knowledge base to facilitate its wide application for development; and application of natural medicine resources and technologies for health sector development, among others has failed to acknowledge the FOI Act in order to make information relevant to its mandate readily available.

 

According to Ms Alaba, the ministry failed to proactively disclose list of files containing applications for any contract, permit, grant, licenses or agreement, reports, documents, studies, or publications prepared by independent contractors for institution; and materials containing information relating to any grant or contract made by or between the institution and another public institution or private organisation, as required by section 2 (3) (e) of the FOI Act.

 

She stated that although the ministry has names and profiles of its management staff on its website, it failed to disclose the names, salaries, titles and dates of employment of all employees of the institution, as required by section 2 (3) (d) (vi) of the Act.

 

Ms Alaba said the ministry also failed to disclose information on documents containing final planning policies, recommendations, and decisions as well as information relating to the receipt or expenditure of public or other funds of the institution in violation of section 2 (3) (iii) and  (v) of the FOI Act.

 

She added: “Although we cannot determine at this point the scale of non-responsiveness by the Ministry to requests for information from members of the public owing to its failure to submit annual reports for 2011 to 2017, which would have provided that vital information, we know for a fact that it has failed to respond to FOI requests from civil society organizations such as the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) and Paradigm Initiative.  Instead of providing the information in accordance with the Law, it has opted to waste public funds defending the refusal to disclose the requested information in court.”

 

Ms Alaba  said there was no indication on the ministry’s website or anywhere else that it has designated an appropriate officer to whom applications for information should be sent, and accused the ministry of also violating Section 2(3)(f) of the Act, adding that even the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, the oversight body for the implementation of the FOI Act, which maintains a database of such FOI Desk Officers of public institutions, has no record of compliance by the ministry.

 

Launched by MRA in July 2017, the “FOI Hall of Shame” highlights public officials and institutions that are undermining the effectiveness of the FOI Act through their actions, inactions, utterances, and decisions.

 

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Ex-Israeli Minister Who Lived in Nigeria Accused of Spying

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Gonen Segev, former Israeli cabinet minister with a checkered history of attempted drug smuggling and credit-card fraud has been charged with spying for Iran.

 

Segev reportedly lived in Nigeria, where he first made contact with the Iranian Embassy in 2012, the Shin Bet internal security service said Monday.

Gonen Segev

Segev, who served as energy and infrastructure minister more than two decades ago, was arrested in May and charged last Friday with espionage and aiding the enemy in wartime.

 

He’s accused of providing Iran with information on Israel’s energy industry and security sites, as well as political and defense officials.

 

Most details of the indictment are under a gag order, Segev’s attorneys, Eli Zohar and Moshe Mazor, said in response to the charges.

 

The Shin Bet announcement “assigns the matters extreme severity while the indictment itself, whose details are under gag order, paint a different picture,” they said.

 

In recent years Segev lived in Nigeria, where he first made contact with the Iranian Embassy in 2012, according to the Shin Bet.

 

The ex-minister met with his handlers twice in Iran and later in other countries, and they gave him a system for encrypting messages, the agency said.

 

Israel regards Iran as its bitterest enemy because of its nuclear work, its ballistic missile program and its support for other enemies of the Jewish state. Iranian officials have referred multiple times to Israel’s annihilation.

 

Segev, a native-born Israeli, was elected to parliament in 1992 and served as a minister from 1995 to 1996.

 

He practiced medicine before entering politics, but had his license revoked after being jailed for trying to smuggle 32,000 Ecstasy tablets into Israel from the Netherlands, Israeli media reported.

 

He was also convicted of credit card fraud for falsely claiming his card had gone missing, then using it to withdraw money, media reported.

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FG Agency too Broke, Orders Staff to Pay for ID Cards

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The Centre for Satellite Technology Development, one of the centres under the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) has reportedly directed members of staff to personally fund the production of identity cards due to “paucity of funds”.

 

In a circular with ref number: CSTD/ADM/41, dated May 21, 2018, signed by Shuaibu A.O, Deputy Director Admin and Finance, on behalf of Dr. Spencer Onuh, Director of the centre, reads: “I am directed to inform all staff of CSTD that the centre is no longer in a good financial position to fund the production of Staff Identity Cards.

 

“In view of the above, all staff are advised to personally fund the cost production of their staff identity cards through AP&D (Admin) till further notice.

“This is for your information and strict compliance please.

“Thank you.”

 

Centre for Satellite Technology Development, has less than 500 staff member.

 

According to Gbenga Omole, a printer at the Area 10 shopping complex in Abuja: “It costs N200 to produce a plastic identity card, but if you want to produce up to 500 cards, then we can give you a discount.”

 

A staff of the centre who pleaded anonymity told our correspondent that the practice of staff sponsoring their identity cards production had been in practice for over two years now.

 

The staff said: “This has been in practice for a long time.

 

“I have even made my ID Card myself.

 

“It is unbelievable because the centre does not have to produce ID cards for all staff but only for promoted staff.”

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Shell Tasks Contractors over Safety, Rewards Champions

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Peter Costello, vice president of Shell Companies in Nigeria (SCiN) and Gabon has charged contractors working for and with Shell Companies in Nigeria to prioritise safety and be relentless in discussing the challenges and dilemmas, noting that the international oil giant was poised to help improve safety performance throughout the energy industry.

 

“Safety is our top priority. Everyone who works for us, or with us, has an important part to play in making SCiN a safer place to work. We cannot succeed in isolation and we must share the challenges by building strong partnerships to further improve our safety culture,” Costello said at the 7th edition of annual SPDC JV Contractor CEO Safety Leadership Conference held in Lagos last week.

 

He added: “We expect our staff and contractors to comply with safety rules and regulations relevant to their work; to intervene to prevent unsafe conditions; and to respect fellow workers and the communities in which we work.”

 

In his remarks, Osagie Okunbor, managing director of The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) and Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria, described the annual event as an opportunity to share learnings and ensure alignment, common ground and shared commitments on Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) in Shell’s joint operations.

 

“We cannot be too careful with safety issues. Through engagement, we ensure that the right competence is in place and we create opportunities for our staff and contract staff to speak openly about dilemmas. The collaboration must be continually strengthened so as to make Shell a safety model in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.” Okunbor said, adding that SPDC “more than ever before, is committed to delivering energy responsibly and safely, with total prevention of harm to our employees, contractors, local communities and the environment.”

 

While setting the conference scene, Chidube Nnene-Anochie, general manager Safety and Environment of Shell Companies in Nigeria, said the two-day conference was informed by SCiN’s mission to constantly work in partnership with contractors, regulators, industry trade associations and professional bodies to share Shell’s global safety experience, standards and knowledge.

 

She said the conference had over the years helped to increase safety awareness among contractors working for SCiN particularly in the areas of safety hazards that are peculiar to oil exploration and production activities.

 

Highpoint of the conference was the presentation of the 2018 SCiN Safety Leadership Awards to contractors who have distinguished themselves as safety champions in the areas of personal, process and transport safety, among others.

 

The conference was attended by SCiN including the Managing Director, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo), Mr. Bayo Ojulari; Managing Director of Shell Nigeria Gas, Mr. Ed Ubong; and the CEOs and representatives of over 83 contractor companies.

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