NOA Sensitises Public on FOI Act, Rape, Drug Abuse in Imo

NOA Sensitises Public on FOI Act, Rape, Drug Abuse in Imo

The National Orientation Agency (NOA) has harped on the need for people to understand and apply the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to curb the rate of rape, gender violence and drug abuse in the society.

The State NOA Director, Mr Vitus Ekeocha, made this known at a one-day interactive forum organised by the agency for stakeholders in Owerri recently with theme “Understanding the Freedom of Information Act (FIOA), Curbing the Increasing Wave of Rape/ Gender Violence, Drug Abuse, Misuse and its Effect on the Society.”

He said that drug abuse, trafficking and other social vices in the society are of great concern to governments adding that efforts were being made to ensure that the vices were controlled as well as nipped in the bud.

According to him, information is critical in decision making while the quality of decisions people make depend on the quality and volume of information at their disposal.

“The FOI Act provides citizens, students, researchers and politicians easy access to information to conduct studies and understand how government processes policies, systems and the functions of public officers and office work.

“No doubt, the Act is a vital tool to ensure democracy and responsive governance in Nigeria,” he said.

Ekeocha said the forum was aimed at finding a way the understanding of the freedom of information act by the populace could decrease the wave of rape, drug abuse and gender violence in the society.

The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Declan Emelumba represented by Mr Kennedy Amanze, Director of Information in the Ministry, decried the increasing wave of rape drug abuse and gender violence in the society.

He said that openness and transparency in the management of public affairs is sine-qua non to democratic process hence the need for to citizens get acquainted with facts rather than speculations and rumours.

Emelumba said people must be educated on the process of how, where and when to speak and obtain facts on issues of interest which is the cardinal objective of FOI

Act and in which the state government believes in.

The President of National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) Mrs Ijeoma Udensi said the FOI Act signed into law on May 28, 2011 gave members of the public the right to speak out without fear of adverse consequences.

Represented by Mrs Chizoba Okafor, Programme Manager of NCWS, Udensi said that in curbing the wave of rape, domestic violence, drug abuse and misuse there should be a united push by all stakeholders for stiffer laws and penalties.

She said that NOA, media institutions and non-governmental agencies should champion the awareness, information and enlightenment programmes against domestic violence as well as bring to the fore incidents of abuse.

Mr Nazzy Njoku, Deputy Director, NOA Imo, in a paper on ” Evaluating the Freedom of Information Act, 2011″, said the forum was to re-enforce citizen’s confidence in openness in the governance process and its impact on national development.

He said the major intendment of the Act was democratizing the information space since sovereignty imbibes on citizens right to make choice and demand for accountability, transparency and participation in governance.

The State Commander of NDLEA, Mr Nse Inam in a paper on ” Drug Abuse and its Effect on the Society” described drug abuse as the administration of or consumption of drug in a manner deviating from medical recommendation.

Represented by Mr Kayode Raji, the Deputy Commander NDLEA, Nse said that illegal or illicit drugs posses many health, social and economic challenges and urged the people especially the youths to desist from it.

He said that a drug user is a danger to the society and quoting from a UN statistics said that 85 per cent of war crimes are committed under the influence of drugs.

“Drug taking translates to social abuse, prostitution, kidnapping, armed robbery, violence, destruction of future workforce and depletes national income. Fighting illicit drug taking is everybody’s business,” Inam said.

Our correspondent reports that the stakeholders comprise the media, civil society organisations, the police and paramilitary agencies.


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