The Nigerian Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and its Implications for Counselling Practice

Rev. Fr. Emmanuel U. Oramah, Ph.D


The citizens’ right to access information without hindrance is a major hallmark of democracy. It supports the right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human rights (1948). The enactment of Freedom of Information in Nigeria in 2011 does seem to have domesticated this provision. Its ramifications could be felt in different areas. Counselling practice in Nigeria is at the fore front of shaping peoples’ lives and by extension it shapes the society as well. The enactment of Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) in 2011 does seem to provide a heightened platform for public scrutiny of counselling in Nigeria. Counselling is a forum that generates a lot of personal information that is often stored as clients’ records. If counsellors are seen as record managers or clients’ information managers and are also used to words such as “confidential”, “restricted”, or “fiduciary relationship” which make divulging of clients’ information to be a regulated issue, then counselling practice in Nigeria cannot be oblivious of the possible implications of the Freedom of Information Act. This article reviews the Freedom of Information Act as enacted by the National Assembly and also discusses its possible implications for counselling practice in the country. The implications were discussed within the domains of counsellor education in Nigeria, code of ethics, counsellors’ accountability, and risk management.

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