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Release information to public in line with RTI Act — Information Ministry

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe
 RTI Law
Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Information Minister

The Ministry of Information has asked managers of state institutions not to hesitate in releasing relevant information to the public, in accordance with the Right to Information Act, 2019 (Act 989).

According to the Head of the Access to Information Division at the ministry, Dr Winifred Nafisa Mahama, the RTI Law mandated state institutions to furnish members of the public with the required information, saying it was important for those institutions to educate their officials on the law to keep them abreast of its provisions.

"Let the education trickle down to all staff, so that they will be acquainted with what the act says," she added.

Event

Dr Mahama was speaking at a sensitisation workshop organised for officials of the Lands Commission in Koforidua in the Eastern Region.

Participants included the leadership of the Lands Commission, namely its Executive Secretary, Alhaji Sulemana Mahama, and the Deputy Executive Secretaries in charge of Corporate Services and Operations, Messrs Jones Ofori-Boadu and Benjamin Arthur, respectively.

Others were the Director, Land Registration Division, Mrs Yaa Agyeman Boadi; the acting Director of Public and Vested Land Management, Ms Mabel Yemedi, and the Head of Human Resource of the commission, Mr Evans Mamphey.

Procedure

Dr Mahama took the participants through relevant portions of Act 989 and touched on aspects such as the procedure for accessing information and the manner of information that could be accessed, what constituted offence under the RTI Law, as well as the applicable sanctions.

She said since the act was passed in 2019, the government had taken steps to ensure that staff of public institutions understood what it entailed to help guide them in the execution of their duties.

She commended the Lands Commission for initiating the workshop and urged other state organisations to also train their staff on the RTI Law.

She further called for the establishment of an efficient archival and retrieval system of keeping records to make information more accessible to the public.

Key issues in Act 989

The Principal Information Officer, Mr Sampson Hodor, said there was the need for every citizen to know his or her right to access information, adding that people had the right to apply for information without giving reasons for the application.

“Where an applicant requests that the application be treated as urgent, the applicant shall state the reason for the urgency,” he said.

According to the officer, people must be conversant with Sub-section 4 of Act 1 of the RTI Law, which enjoins applicants to know who to contact within an organisation for information, the time limit for giving out the information, knowing which information is exempt and at what time an applicant pays for the information so requested.

He described government-held information as a “national asset” that must be made open and transparent, but added that such information was subject to some exemptions necessary to protect public interest.

The RTI Officer assigned to the Lands Commission, Mr Augustine Boakye, was introduced to the participants.

Assurance

The Executive Secretary of the Lands Commission, Alhaji Sulemana Mahama, assured the public that his outfit was poised for action and would ensure that the knowledge acquired at the workshop was implemented for the benefit of the people.

He said the commission would enforce provisions of the RTI Law, in line with its responsibility as a public institution.