By Civic Hive

In your desire for transparency and accountability, do you know you are entitled to request specific information from public agencies and hold them accountable? There’s a tool at your disposal: the Freedom of Information Act (FOI).

Governments and public agencies seeing you are about to utilise this information.

Knowing how to write an effective FOI request is essential to utilise this legislation and get all that the government considers a secret. This is where Civic Hive comes in with a guide, providing step-by-step instructions on how to craft the FOI request and ensure a timely response.


One. Identify the Information: Before writing your FOI request, clearly identify the exact information you wish to obtain. Being specific will help streamline the process and increase the chances of receiving the desired information.

Two. Determine the Relevant Authority: Identify the appropriate ministry, department, or agency responsible for the information you seek.

Three. Include the recipient’s address and reference number: Include the recipient’s address on the letter and assign a reference number. This will help track your request and establish a clear timeline for a response.

Four. Address the relevant officer: Direct your letter to the officer in charge or the designated FOI officer responsible for handling such requests. This ensures that your request reaches the appropriate person.

If you no tell us, how we go know? Tell us here.

Five. Use a Distinct Subject Line: Begin your FOI request with the subject line “Freedom of Information Request for Details of —“. This distinct subject line distinguishes it from a regular letter and highlights the purpose of your request.

Six. Clearly State Your Request: Clearly and concisely state the information you are requesting, ensuring it aligns with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. Also, provide any relevant context that may assist in locating the information.

Seven. Sign and Deliver the Letter: Sign and deliver your letter to the recipient’s address. It is advisable to keep a copy of the request for your records.

Eight. Attach a photocopy for acknowledgement: Ensure that your FOI request is accompanied by a photocopy for the recipient’s acknowledgement. This will serve as evidence of receipt and can be helpful in case of any future disputes or delays.

Nine. Response Time and Follow-up: According to the Freedom of Information Act, public agencies have a maximum of seven days to respond to FOI requests. If no response is received within the stipulated timeframe, you have the right to send a reminder letter referring to the initial request and its reference number. If the agency continues to ignore your request, you are empowered by the FOI Act to take legal action against the public agency.

You should inform the FOI Desk at the Ministry of Justice about your request. The Ministry coordinates, supervises, and enforces compliance by public agencies with the Freedom of Information Act, ensuring that your request is handled appropriately.

By following the steps outlined in this article, you can effectively exercise your right to access information and demand transparency. Together, as informed citizens, we can contribute to a more transparent and accountable Nigeria.



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