The explanation for this secretive policy may not be very clear but most of the nations that have taken this orientation of secrecy including Nigeria have cited national security as one of the greatest motivations for the secrecy policy. This paper seeks to highlight the issues and prospects as far as the freedom of information and national security in Nigeria are concerned.
Freedom of information may be defined as the right of any citizen in any state to be informed in writing or in any form appropriate on request of disclosure from a governmental agency and if the agency refuses the citizen can demand the reason for refusal. In other words, any citizen has a right to demand any kind of information from the government or its agent upon which if the government or agent deems otherwise then the citizen has a right to demand an explanation as to why he or she has been denied the information requested for (Horrigan, 1998: pp90).
Freedom of information legislation is sometimes known as open records is a set of rules that allows for access to government held information by the public. These sets of rules form the legal framework that puts the government under obligation to avail government information to the public as need may be. Most countries in the world have legislated FOI. Actually, more than 70 countries countrywide enjoy this freedom to information with Sweden's FoI legislation termed as the Freedom of the Press Act dates far back to 1766 and it is deemed to be the oldest worldwide. In Africa, only three countries have legislated FoI and these are Angola, S. Africa and Uganda. Nigeria is in the process of legislating FoI even though the process has been very slow and often laced with controversy. However there are hopes that with the present pressure on the government from stakeholders in FoI i.e. the public, press/media, judiciary, human rights activists, NGOs etc, the bill is likely to sail through the House of Representatives sooner than later.
National security on the other hand refers to the obligation to preserve the endurance and survival of a nation or state through by the use of political, military and financial power. It is an investment that the nation makes to make sure that her citizens are safe and they lack nothing. Further, the national territory together with its institutions may uphold integrity and this integrity is what is called national security. In other words, national security is the integrity of the national territory and its institutions (Raskin, 1979).
What relationship exists between freedom of information and national security The two are closely related that when you mention one the other is implied. There are restrictions to the freedom of information legislation simply because of national security. As much as people need to have freedom of security for the functioning of democracy, the degree should not reach a point that can injure national security. A nation has to have its secrets which must not reach the hands of enemies who may threaten the political, financial and even physical safety if the citizens. Therefore the two are related in that if a nation overindulges in one, the other suffers loss i.e. if a nation overemphasizes national security, freedom of information may not prevail sufficiently and if a nation gives too much freedom of inform