To Open A Website In 2017 Is Reverse Engineering – Cross River Assembly Speaker, John Gaul

In Breaking News, Business & Economy, National News, Politics, Reports

By CrossRiverWatch Admin

The Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, Hon. John Gaul Lebo has said that opening a website in 2017 is reverse engineering.

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The Speaker made this assertion while responding to a question from an attendee at the 3rd Dialogue With Agba Jalingo Townhall Meeting held at the Transcorp Hotel in Calabar, Monday.

The Speaker was asked how Cross Riverians desirous of following up activities of the 8th Assembly can access the bills and resolutions of the House online and the Speaker responded that:

“When I became Speaker, one of the things I did was to create a Twitter handle for the House of Assembly with a database.

“We are available on Facebook, we are available on Google.

“To open a website in 2017 is reverse engineering.

“If you go to Google and type the Cross River State House of Assembly you will see the number of bills that will come out.”

“Now people say how will you get information?

“We have created an information desk available in the office of the Clerk.

“There is what is called official secret Act. You know when they created the Freedom of Information Act, I was one of those persons who said that they had done nothing.

“Legally speaking, nothing was done and this is my reason; they created the Freedom of Information Act but they did not repeal the Official Secret Act.

“If you go to any Government office today you still see what they call Secret Registry. Any information that goes there you can’t give it to anybody, you will go to jail.

“So unless we repeal that Secret Registry, we are still going to be having problems. So they gave it with the right hand and took it with the left hand.

“But I want to assure that if you come to the House of Assembly we will give you that information, but it’s available online and you don’t need to come looking for anybody to get that done.”

But a simple facts check by our reporter shows that all the claims made by the Speaker but one, are incorrect.

Firstly, the Speaker claims that,

“When I became Speaker, one of the things I did was to create a Twitter handle for the House of Assembly with a database.”

This claim is totally incorrect as there is no existing official twitter handle of the state House of Assembly that has a data base.

An existing twitter handle @CRSHOA, merely retweets personal tweets of the Speaker and has no data base of bills or resolutions of the House.

The twitter handle @CRSHOA
More tweets from @CRSHOA

Secondly, the Speaker further claims that:

“We are available on facebook, we are available on Google.

“If you go to Google and type the Cross River State House of Assembly you will see the number of bills that will come out.”

This claim is also totally incorrect.

A check on facebook indicates that there are two existing facebook pages that may be connected to the Cross River State House of Assembly.

The first one is ‘Vox Populi’, a news and information page operated by the Chief Press Secretary to the Speaker, Azogor Ideba.

Updates from Vox Populi Facebook page

It has no data base of bills and resolutions of the House. It is mostly used to publish press releases from the Speaker’s office, with the last post on the page since July 29, 2017.

The other facebook page is ‘Cross River State House of Assembly – Information Unit’.

This page also contains brief news and press releases from the Speaker’s office and has no data base of bills and resolutions of the House. The last post on the page was August 9, 2017.

A check on google also does not turn out any number of bills as claimed by the Speaker, rather the Google searches turn up links to different media reports about the House. No bills at all.

Search results of Cross River State House of Assembly on Google

Thirdly, the Speaker also claimed that:

“We have created an information desk available in the office of the Clerk.”

Findings by CrossRiverWatch indicate that, though the Speaker had muted the idea, there is no existing information desk in the office of the Clerk yet. People who have access to the Clerk merely walk in to ask him questions.

Fourthly, the Speaker claimed that:

“They created the Freedom of Information Act, I was one of those persons who said that they had done nothing. Legally speaking, nothing was done.”

If you fact check this claim, it falls totally flat. Since the enactment of the landmark FOI law, there has been tremendous progress in getting access to public information both in Cross River and elsewhere as well as punishment for those who run foul of the law.

In December 2016, the Delta State Commissioner for Lands and Survey, Mr Daniel Okenyi and other top officials of the state government were convicted for withholding information under the Freedom of Information Act.

They were convicted by a Kwale High Court of Justice for failure to release relevant land documents to community leaders from Umu-Okpala Omai family of Umusam community in Kwale.

In Cross River state, Barrister Obono Obla, who is now Special Asisstant on Prosecution to President Buhari, two years ago, successfully used the FOI Law to demand record of allocation to the 18 Cross River LGAs as well as the 633million that was to be deducted from the State monthly allocation for 84 months.
So, to say nothing was done by the passage of the FOI law is incorrect.

Fifthly, the Speaker was however right when he said the Official Secret Act has not been repealed.

“They created the Freedom of Information Act but they did not repeal the Official Secret Act.” He said.

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