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Positive Obligation to Protect African Charter's Access to Information Norm Versus National Security Restrictions in Nigerian Law: Striking a Balance

Positive Obligation to Protect African Charter's Access to Information Norm Versus National... Contrary to widely held scholarly opinion, this article argues that the Nigerian Constitution supports a positive right of access to information. A critical analysis reveals that clumsily phrased constitutional provisions together with vague invocations of ‘national security’ embolden the Nigerian state to suppress access to public interest information. Furthermore, the article subjects Nigeria's statutory provisions that authorise limitations on access to information on national security grounds to the test of reasonableness of the restrictions to rights under the African Charter as incorporated into Nigerian law. It finds disproportionate national security restrictions contrary to the state's positive obligation to protect access to public interest information under the Charter. The article concludes that only clearly worded constitutional recognition of access to information and a rule-of-law-based definition of national security in Nigerian law would ensure a reasonably justifiable balance between the two. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png African Journal of International and Comparative Law Edinburgh University Press

Positive Obligation to Protect African Charter's Access to Information Norm Versus National Security Restrictions in Nigerian Law: Striking a Balance

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
Copyright © American Meteorological Society
ISSN
0954-8890
eISSN
1755-1609
DOI
10.3366/ajicl.2019.0268
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Contrary to widely held scholarly opinion, this article argues that the Nigerian Constitution supports a positive right of access to information. A critical analysis reveals that clumsily phrased constitutional provisions together with vague invocations of ‘national security’ embolden the Nigerian state to suppress access to public interest information. Furthermore, the article subjects Nigeria's statutory provisions that authorise limitations on access to information on national security grounds to the test of reasonableness of the restrictions to rights under the African Charter as incorporated into Nigerian law. It finds disproportionate national security restrictions contrary to the state's positive obligation to protect access to public interest information under the Charter. The article concludes that only clearly worded constitutional recognition of access to information and a rule-of-law-based definition of national security in Nigerian law would ensure a reasonably justifiable balance between the two.

Journal

African Journal of International and Comparative LawEdinburgh University Press

Published: May 1, 2019

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