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Leak official documents and risk jail – FG warns

The Federal Government has warned that the unauthorised disclosure or leakage of official documents, capable of impacting the country negatively, is a punishable offence.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Sen. George Akume, gave the warning on Tuesday, July 2, in Abuja, at a workshop organised by the Bureau for Public Service Reforms (BPSR) in collaboration with the Office of the Government of the Federation (OSGF).

The workshop is themed: “Renewing hope and strengthening of national unity through effective communication and the role of the Official Secret Acts in maintaining confidentiality and national security.’’

Represented by Dr Nnamdi Mbaeri, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the SGF, Akume said unauthorized leakage of sensitive official documents constitutes a felony and there is no defence for such, either in the Constitution or Freedom of Information Act.

Recall that Section 97 (2) of the Criminal Code Act of Nigeria, provides: “Any person who, being employed in the public service, without proper authority abstracts, or makes a copy of, any document the property of his employer is guilty of a misdemeanour and is liable to imprisonment for one year”.

Akume recalled that government had devised measures in the past to contain the leakage of sensitive official information in MDAs through the issuance of service-wide circulars by the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation in August 2021.

He said: “This was reinforced by the issuance of another service-wide circular in February 2024 on the unauthorised circulation of official documents with information on social media.

“This was done to re-emphasise other extant regulations prohibiting unauthorised disclosure or leakage of official documents.

“There is the need to regulate the activities of the civil society organisations who use the Freedom of Information Act to harass, intimidate and siphon resources from public officers through the dissemination of fake and unfounded information.

“This should be properly addressed by all the practitioners in the communication and related industries.’’ 

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