48 human rights and press freedom organisations worldwide call upon UN and AU Special Mechanisms to intervene in arbitrary detention of #RevolutionNow protest leader

Omoyele Sowore, Sahara Reporters publisher
Omoyele Sowore, Sahara Reporters publisher

Forty-eight international and Nigerian human rights and press freedom organisations have filed an urgent appeal to the United Nations and African Union Special Mechanisms calling for their intervention in the arbitrary arrest and detention of Nigerian journalist and human rights defender Mr Omoyele Sowore.

Mr Sowore is a prominent journalist, human rights activist and pro-democracy campaigner. He is the founder of Sahara Reporters, an online news agency based in New York City that focuses on corruption, human rights abuses and other political misconduct in Nigeria. He was arrested on 3 August 2019, following his call for a peaceful protest using the hashtag #RevolutionNow. The objective of the protest was to demand that the Nigerian government end corruption and economic inequality and guarantee education to all.

Following his arrest, Mr Sowore was initially denied access to his lawyers and he is yet to be arraigned before a competent court. No charges have been filed, but the Federal Court has granted a request from the Nigerian State Security Service to detain Mr Sowore for 45 days to conduct investigations under the 2013 Terrorism Act. Efforts by Mr Sowore’s legal team in Nigeria, led by Mr Femi Falana (SAN), to petition his release have been unsuccessful thus far.

The 48 organisations who filed the Urgent Appeal argue that Mr Sowore’s treatment constitutes a violation of his right not to be arbitrarily detained, right to a fair trial, right to freedom of expression, right of freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and his rights as a human rights defender. The organisations, assisted by Ms Nani Jansen Reventlow from the London-based internationally renowned law firm, Doughty Street Chambers, are calling upon the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, UN Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, the situation of human rights defenders, and African Commission Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression and human rights defenders to:

  • intervene urgently to secure the immediate release of Mr Sowore; and
  • declare his arrest and continuing detention a gross violation of his human rights.

“The arrest and detention of Sahara Reporter’s founder, Omoyele Sowore, is without doubt a threat to press freedom and investigative journalism in Nigeria,” said La Keisha Landrum Pierre, COO of Sahara Reporters. “Sowore has used the word ‘revolution’ contextually to mean ‘change for the better’ since he founded Sahara Reporters in 2006. He then stated that he would “revolutionise” the way news is being reported: something he actually did by leading the pioneering efforts in citizen journalism in Nigeria. We are shocked that a government that rode to power on the promise to wipe out corruption and be the ‘voice of the voiceless’ is trying to silence the call for change by the same people who elected it.”

Joy Hyvarinen, head of advocacy at Index on Censorship said: “Index on Censorship urges the Nigerian authorities to release the prominent journalist and campaigner Omoyele Sowore immediately. The arrest and detention are a shocking violation of Mr Sowore’s human rights, which calls into question Nigeria’s willingness and ability to meet international human rights obligations.”

  1. All Workers’ Convergence (AWC)
  2. Afrika Movement for Freedom and Justice (AMFJ), Agege
  3. Women Agenda (AWA)
  4. ARTICLE 19 Senegal/West Africa
  5. Chidi Odinkalu (Open Society Justice Initiative
  6. Centre for Constitutional Rights
  7. Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice (CHRSJ)
  8. Coalition for Revolution (CORE)
  9. Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR)
  10. Community Women Initiatives (CWI)
  11. The Concerned Forum
  12. Congress of Progressive Youths (COPY)
  13. Democratic Youth League
  14. Edo State Civil Society Organisation (EDOSCO)
  15. Enough is Enough (EiE) Nigeria
  16. Freedom of Expression Hub
  17. Gani Fawehinmi Apostles
  18. Gani Fawehinmi Memorial Organization (gafam.org)
  19. Governance Advancement Initiative for Nigeria (GAIN)
  20. Global Voice Sub-Saharan Africa
  21. Grassroot Justice Centre
  22. Human and Environment Development Agenda (HEDA)
  23. Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-UGANDA)
  24. IAmVocal
  25. Index on Censorship
  26. Media Legal Defence Initiative
  27. Media Rights Agenda
  28. People’s Alternative Front (PAF)
  29. Moshood Abiola Vanguard for Democracy (MAVD)
  30. Movement For People’s Rights
  31. National Conscience Party (NCP), Lagos State Branch
  32. Nigerians in Diaspora Europe, Belgium-Luxembourg (NIDOE-BeLux)
  33. Open Society for West Africa (OSIWA) Nigeria Office
  34. Paradigm Initiative
  35. People’s Alternative Front (PAF)
  36. Peoples’ Unite, Rivers State Civil Society Coalition (RIVSCO)
  37. Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC)
  38. Save Lagos Group
  39. Socialist Vanguard Tendency (SVT)
  40. Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)
  41. Sovereign Vital Force
  42. Spaces for Change
  43. Take-It-Back (TiB) Movement
  44. Talakawa Parliament
  45. Veteran Group for Operation Clean Crusade (VGOCC)
  46. Women for Leadership Change
  47. Workbond International Network (WIN)
  48. Youth In Good Governance Initiative (YIGGI)

For further information, please contact:

Idowu Adewale
Communications Officer
idowu@mediarightsagenda.org

MRA Commends NIPC for ‘Initial Steps’ to Comply with FOI Proactive Disclosure Obligation

Ms Yewande Sadiku,Executive Secretary/ Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC)
Ms Yewande Sadiku,Executive Secretary/ Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC)

Lagos, Wednesday, August 21, 2019: Media Rights Agenda (MRA) today commended the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) for its initial efforts at complying with its proactive disclosure obligations under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and called on other public institutions in the country to take a cue from the Commission and follow its example.

 The management of the NIPC announced on August 16, 2019 that the Commission had made proactive disclosures on its website pursuant to Freedom of Information Act and listed the categories of information it has proactively published.

In a statement signed by Mr. Ridwan Sulaimon, MRA’s Freedom of Information Programme Manager, the organisation said: “Upon an assessment of the NIPC’s website, we can confirm that in addition to the fact that it has proactively published the various categories of information announced in its statement, it has also created a portal on its website dedicated to the implementation of the FOI Act.  We are greatly encouraged by the actions of the Commission in taking these commendable steps to comply with the provisions of the FOI Act in an environment characterized by widespread disregard for the Law among Government institutions and agencies.”

 According to Mr. Sulaimon, “We consider compliance with proactive disclosure obligations by public institutions to be extremely important because in addition to being one of the two major ways by which the public can access information under the FOI Act, proactive disclosure helps to ensure, among other things, that there is equal access to the information for all citizens and members of the public, including those who for whatever reason may not be able to make requests for information.”

Section 2 of FOI Act, among other things, places an obligation on all public institutions in Nigeria to ensure that they record and keep information about all their activities, operations and businesses; that they organize and maintain all the information in their custody in a manner that facilitates public access to such information; and that they proactively publish certain categories of information in their custody, and that they review and update such information periodically and whenever changes occur.

In an August 16, 2019 statement, the management of the NIPC listed the categories of information it has proactively published on the Commission’s website pursuant to the FOI Act to include the NIPC Pioneer Status, Appropriation performances, and list of companies registered under the NIPC Act, court cases that the NIPC is involved in, Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) and Agreements signed by NIPC, details of all procurements done as well as summary of all FOI requests it has received and responded to over the period under review.

The Commission said it had also proactively published the NIPC’s Nominal Roll, the approved 2019 appropriation budget, the approved 2019 Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) budget as well as its procurement plan for 2019. The reports cover January to June 2019 and also provides the contact details of its FOI Desk Officer, who is responsible for receiving and responding to requests for information made by members of the public to the Commission under the FOI Act.

Mr. Sulaimon said: “We are impressed by the fact that the Commission has made these efforts to comply with the provisions of the Law voluntarily and has taken deliberate steps to ensure that members of the public are aware of the availability of these records and information on its website by making a public announcement. These are good practices and we call on all other public institutions to emulate them.”

He however reminded the Commission that it still had a lot more to do for it to ensure complete compliance with the full range of obligations placed on all public institutions covered by the FOI Act, saying “the FOI Act contains 16 categories of information that all public institutions are required to proactively publish and the NIPC’s proactive disclosure is not yet complete.”

Mr. Sulaimon added that the NIPC should also periodically review and update the information it has proactively published or whenever the need arises, ensure that relevant records, documents and information preceding January 2019 are also proactively disclosed, and provide appropriate training for its officials and employees on the FOI Act, in accordance with Section 13 of the Act, to enable the Commission more effectively implement the Act.

He noted that although the Commission has submitted its annual reports to the Attorney-General of the Federation for the years 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018, in accordance with Section 29 of the FOI Act, it failed to submit the reports for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2016.  He therefore called on the NIPC to take urgent steps to submit the outstanding reports to the Attorney-General of the Federation and make all of them available to the public, as required by the Law.

 For further information, please contact:

Idowu Adewale

Comminication Officer

idowu@mediarightsagenda.org

Local Intelligence Agency Arrest Editor for Facebook Post

Ibrahim Dan Halilu
Ibrahim Dan Halilu

At about 2am on August 5, 2019 operatives of Nigeria’s local intelligence agency, the Directorate of State Security (DSS) stormed the Rigachikun, Kaduna State residence of Mr. Ibrahim Dan Halilu, a former editor at the privately-owned Daily Trust newspaper and arrested him for ventilating his support of the ‘RevolutionNow’ campaign.

Ibrahim, on his Facebook timeline, posted his endorsement and support of the activities of #RevolutionNow.

The Facebook post reads: “I feel I should share because it resonates with me. If resonates with you too, please share until all oppressed people of Nigeria get the message and domesticate it. This is #Not the Nigeria of My Dream.

“Somebody asked me why we need a revolution now, this was my reply: The aim of the revolution is to challenge the uncommon hardship why we have 16m children on the street; challenge why we have become the poverty capital of the world; challenge why we have 20 persons with corrupt cases as federal legislators and would-be Ministers.

“We need to restructure the country. We need to put an end to trillions spent on electricity while we live in darkness and pay estimated bill for electricity and meters. Why do we have huge oil reserves but our refineries are dead and we are re-importing what we exported as crude oil? It is time to ask why those in government travel abroad for medical care when they have left our hospitals dilapidated; why they send their children to school abroad when our children learn under mango trees.

“We are revolting against the continuing killings that have left 20,000 Nigerians dead while those in office move around under state paid security and do nothing. We are revolting against the because over a thousand Nigerians soldiers killed by Boko Haram have been secretly buried without identifiable graves, dignity or honour. $16m was purportedly spent on mosquito nets but our children die daily from malaria. $320m Abacha loot was purportedly distributed to the poor. Where is the verifiable list? N500bn was purportedly distributed to the poor as so-called Trader-moni. Where is the verifiable list?

“…With divine grace, God gave us about 40 natural resources spread across the length and breadth of the country. No country on mother earth is as blessed! The persons destroying Nigeria in and out of government are less than 10,000. For how long will the 201 million of us be silent? Forever? It will be sheer stupidity and very unfair of us to be silent and bequeath today’s sorry Nigeria to our children. For how long shall we continue to endure bad leadership from certificate forgers, election riggers, ritualists and yahoo politicians, hoping upon hope for a better tomorrow when things get worse by the day? We are too rich to be poor. We are too blessed to be a mockery of the world!!! No!!!”

One week on, Ibrahim continued to be held captive without any charges being brought against him and he was not arraigned before any court of law.

He was asked to write a statement on his connection with the #RebolutionNow campaign group that called for street protests from August 5 which he did.

In his statement, he made it clear that he only shared a post from the group on his Facebook page. The DSS continued to detain him beyond the 48 hours allowed by the law without charging him for any offence.

Ibrahim’s arrest comes on the heels of the August 3 arrest of Mr. Omoyele Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters and subsequent crackdown of Nigerians who took to the streets to protest what they considered bad governance and calling for revolution. Sowore was one of the masterminds behind the ‘#RevolutionNow’ protests.

MRA Condemns DSS Arrest and Detention of Journalist, Calls for his Unconditional Release

Mr. Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
Mr. Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda (MRA)

Media Rights Agenda (MRA) condemned the arrest and continued detention of Mr. Ibrahim Dan Halilu on August 13, 2019, calling for his immediate and unconditional release from custody.

The organization called on the Federal Government to compensate Mr. Halilu, a journalist and former Political Editor of the privately-owned Daily Trust newspaper, for the brazen violation of his rights.

MRA noted that the journalist was arrested in the early hours of Monday, August 5, 2019 at about 2.30am by operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS), who raided his home in Kaduna and held him in custody at the DSS office in Kaduna almost continuously for over one week, except for a brief period when he was reported to have been briefly released on August 6.

It contended that the actions of intelligence agency amounted to a breach of the Constitution and Nigeria’s obligations under international human rights Law.

In a statement in Lagos, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, MRA’s Executive Director, said: “It is now over one week since Mr. Halilu was arrested and he continues to be held in unlawful and unconstitutional detention as no charges have been filed against him nor has he been arraigned before any court of law as required by Section 35(4) and (5) of the Constitution.  We strongly condemn such arrogant violation of the Constitution and careless disregard for the rights of a citizen.”

He said MRA learnt that after his arrest and while in custody, Mr. Halilu was asked to write a statement on his connection with Omoyele Sowore’s political movement that called for nationwide protests from August 5, 2019 under the hashtag “#RevolutionNow”, which he did, making it clear to the DSS that he had no link with either Sowore himself or with his political movement.

According to Mr. Ojo, Mr. Halilu’s “offence”, for which he is now being punished by an agency that has constituted itself into a complainant, prosecutor, judge and jury, appears to have been sharing a social media post from Sowore’s political movement on his Facebook page in which he essentially criticized the government’s performance.

He said: “the right to freedom of expression is a protected human right both under our Constitution and under international human rights law, and the right includes the freedom to impart information and ideas of all kinds through any media of one’s choice.  It has not been shown that Mr. Halilu has done anything to warrant any restriction on his exercise of this right or that merits punishment. If there is any allegation or suspicion that he has, the proper thing for a government that appreciates the concept of the rule of law to do is to charge him before a court of law.”

Mr. Ojo argued that the DSS had clearly been unable to charge Mr. Halilu before any court because it has no evidence linking him with the commission of any offence prescribed by Law but has chosen to punish him for criticizing the performance of the government, an act that cannot amount to a crime.

Urging the Federal Government to prevail on the DSS to release Mr. Halilu from unlawful custody, he said: “We call on the Government and its security agencies to follow the path of constitutionality. Those who derive their authority from the Constitution and exercise their powers under it have a profound duty to strictly and scrupulously comply with its provisions, otherwise they may unwittingly destroy the basis of their authority and powers when ordinary citizens become motivated to follow their example and similarly cast aside the Constitution.”

Journalist Sues the President of the Nigeria Football Federation for Denial of FOI Request

Ebuka Aneke-Agu, Member of Media Rights Agenda’s (MRA) FOI Legal Response Network
Ebuka Aneke-Agu, Member of Media Rights Agenda’s (MRA) FOI Legal Response Network

A journalist, Ms Godsgift Onyedinefu, who works with Global Sentinel has instituted legal proceeding against the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) over its refusal to provide her with information she requested pursuant to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011. The Attorney General of the Federation is joined as a party in the suit.

The case was filed by Ebuka Aneke-Agu, a member of Media Rights Agenda’s (MRA) FOI Legal Response Network, at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.

The suit is seeking the court for the following reliefs:

  1. A declaration that Ms Onyedinefu is entitled to receive the information she applied for from the President of the Nigeria Football Federation having made a written application dated June 3, 2019 and which the President of the Nigeria Football Federation received on June 17, 2019.
  2. A declaration that the failure and/or refusal of the President of the Nigeria Football Federation to make available to Ms Onyedinefu the information applied for via the journalist’s letter dated June 3, 2019 is wrongful, unlawful and amounts to a gross violation of her right of access to information established and guaranteed by Sections 1(1) and 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  3. A declaration that the failure and/or refusal by the President of the Nigeria Football Federation to make available to Ms Onyedinefu the information she applied for in her letter dated June 3, 2019 amounts to a refusal to give access to information under Section 7 (4) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  4. A declaration that the failure and/or refusal of the President of the Nigeria Football Federation to give written notice to Ms Onyedinefu stating the reasons for the denial of the information sought and requested is wrongful, unlawful and constitutes a gross violation of Section 4 (b) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.
  5. An order of the Court to compel the President of the Nigeria Football Federation to make available to Ms Onyedinefu the information applied for within seven days of the judgment of the Court.
  6. An order directing the Attorney General of the Federation to initiate criminal proceedings against the Ministry and its Honourable Minister for wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7(5) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  7. The Sum of N1,000,000.00 (One Million Naira) only as exemplary and aggravated damages for the unlawful violation of the journalist’s right of access to information established and guaranteed by Sections 1(1) and 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 and wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7(4) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

The Suit arose from a letter written by Godsgift Onyedinefu on June 3, 2019 and received on June 17, 2019 to the President of the Nigeria Football Federation pursuant to the FOI Act, seeking the following information:

  1. A list of Nigerian footballers and coaches who travelled to Russia for the 2018 World Cup and whose travel expenses (including flights, accommodation, visa costs, living expresses and other allowances) were covered by the Nigeria Football Federation and/or through public funds.
  2. A list of supporters (other than government officials) who travelled to Russia for the 2018 World Cup to cheer the Nigerian team and whose travel expenses (including flights, accommodation, visa costs, living expenses and other allowances) were covered by the Nigeria Football Federation and/or through public funds, either in part or in full.
  3. A list of government officials and their aides or assistants (including the designations of everyone on the list and the public institutions to which they are affiliated) who travelled to Russia for the 2018 World Cup whose travel expenses (including flight, accommodation, visa costs, living expense and other allowances) were covered by the Nigeria Football Federation and/or through public funds, either in part or in full.
  4. The duration of each person’s stay in Russia, including the date of departure from Nigeria (or other point of departure) and the date of return to Nigeria (or to some other location) as well as the total cost of each person’s travel to Russia to the Nigeria Football Federation for all aspects of the trip for which the Nigeria Football Federation was responsible.
  5. The total cost to the Nigeria Football Federation or the total amount budgeted by the Nigeria Football Federation for its participation and the participation of others sponsored by it in the Russia 2018 World Cup.
  6. Whether budgetary allocation for Nigeria Football Federation’s participation in the Russia 2018 World Cup as well as the participation of those who were sponsored by the Nigeria Football Federation, including the total cost referred to in Paragraph 5 above, were provided for and approved in the 2018 Appropriation Act of the Federal Government and to specify the head of expenditure to which the costs were charged.
  7. The sources of fund and the amount from each source received by the Nigeria Football Federation relating to its participation in the Russia 2018 World Cup.
  8. Details of other in-kind sponsorship and partnership received by the Nigeria Football Federation to participate in the Russia 2018 World Cup, including the coverage of each partnership or sponsorship.
  9. The total amount that the Nigeria Football Federation earned from its three-and-half- year partnership with Nike since the beginning of the deal in 2015 till date.

The suit is litigated under a sponsored project by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA). No date has been fixed for hering in the case.

Journalist Sues National Broadcasting Commission for Refusal to Grant FOI Request

Mojirayo Ogunlana-Nkanga, Member of Media Rights Agenda’s (MRA) FOI Legal
Mojirayo Ogunlana-Nkanga, Member of Media Rights Agenda’s (MRA) FOI Legal

Mr. David Lawani, a journalist with the Abuja Inquirer newspaper, has filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja challenging  the National Broadcasting Commission’s (NBC)  failure to grant his  request for information pursuant to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011. Joined as defendants in the suit are the Director-General of the NBC and the Attorney General of the Federation.

The journalist wrote to the Commission through a letter dated June 26, 2019 which was received by the Commission on June 27, 2019 requesting for information pertaining to the fines imposed on some broadcast stations for alleged breach of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code but received no response despite receiving and acknowledging the request.

The case was filed on July 23, 2019 by Mrs Mojirayo Ogunlana-Nkanga, a member of Media Rights Agenda’s (MRA) FOI Legal Response Network, at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja applying for an order of the Court to compel the Commission to grant David access to the documents and information he requested for which are:

  • Details of the internal processes that the NBC followed in establishing the guilt of the affected stations and arriving at the fines imposed on the stations, including minutes of relevant meetings, internal memoranda relating to the issue, copies of any relevant correspondence between NBC and any other individual or entity or government official, etc.
  • Copies of all correspondence by the NBC with the affected stations intimating them of their alleged offences and their responses.
  • Details of the representation made by the affected stations to the NBC, whether in writing or otherwise, before the imposition of fines including minutes of relevant meetings, copies of correspondences, etc.
  • How many of the stations have paid the fines and how much in total did the NBC realize from the fines?
  • The current status of the monies collected from the stations on this matter, including where the funds are domiciled, specific amounts that have been expended by the NBC so far and for what purposes; and what the NBC intends to do with the unspent funds.

In the suit, filed pursuant to order 3 rule 6 of Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019 and Sections 1 (1), 2(6),  4 (a) (b) and 7 (5) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, David is praying  the Court for the following reliefs:

  • A declaration that he is entitled to receive the information he applied for from the National Broadcasting Commission having made a written application on June 26, 2019 and the Commission and its Director-General having received the same request on June 27, 2019.
  • A declaration that the failure and/or refusal of the National Broadcasting Commission to make available to him the information applied for via his letter dated June 26, 2019 to the National Broadcasting Commission and its Director-General is wrongful, unlawful and amounts to a gross violation of his rights of access to information established and guaranteed by Sections 1(1) and 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  • A declaration that the failure and/or refusal by the National Broadcasting Commission and its Director-General to make available to him the information he applied for in his letter dated June 26, 2019 to the National Broadcasting Commission and its Director-General amounts to wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7 (5) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  • A declaration that the failure and/or refusal of the National Broadcasting Commission and its Director-General to give written notice to him stating the reasons for the denial of the information sought and requested is wrongful, unlawful and constitutes a gross violation of Section 4 (b) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.
  • An order of the Honourable Court compelling the National Broadcasting Commission and its Director-General individually and/ or collectively to make available to him the information he applied for within seven days of the Judgment of the Court.
  • An order compelling the Attorney General of the Federation to initiate criminal proceedings against the National Broadcasting Commission and its Director-General for the offence of wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7(5) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  • The Sum of N1,000,000.00 (One Million Naira) only on the footing of exemplary and aggravated damages for the unlawful violation of the journalist’s right of access to information established and guaranteed by Section 1(1) and 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 and wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7(4) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

The suit is litigated under a sponsored project by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA). No date has been fixed for hearing.

Federal Ministry of Finance and Others Taken to Court for Non-Compliance with the FOI Act

Charles Musa, Member of Media Rights Agenda’s (MRA) FOI Legal Response Network
Charles Musa, Member of Media Rights Agenda’s (MRA) FOI Legal Response Network

Ms Godsgift Onyedinefu, a journalist with Global Sentinel, an online news magazine, has taken the Federal Ministry of Finance to Court over the Ministry’s failure to make available to her the information she requested under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011. She joined the Minister of Finance and the Attorney General of the Federation as parties in the suit.

In an Originating Summons filed on July 26, 2019 at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court with suit no FHC/ABJ/CS/880/2019, Godsgift is also seeking a declaration that she is entitled, as of right, to receive the information she applied for from the Ministry, having made a written application on June 3, 2019 which was received by the Ministry on June 27, 2019.

The suit further seeks for an order for the Ministry to make available to Godsgift the information she applied for within seven days of the judgment of the Court. She is also demanding from the court an order directing the Attorney General of the Federation to initiate criminal proceedings against the Ministry for wrongful denial of access to information under the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

The case was filed by Charles Musa, a member of Media Rights Agenda’s (MRA) FOI Legal Response Network, at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.

The suit is asking the Court for the following reliefs:

  1. A declaration that Ms Onyedinefu is entitled to receive from the Ministry and its Honourable Minister the information applied for, relating to, whether budgetary allocation for Nigeria’s participation in the Russia 2018 World Cup including the total cost were provided for and approved in the 2018 Appropriation Act of the Federal Government and to specify the head of expenditure to which the costs were charged and other information request for as specified in the journalist’s letter of June 3, 2019  and received on June 27, 2019 by the Ministry and its Honourable Minister pursuant to Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2o11.
  2. A declaration that the failure, neglect and/or refusal of the Ministry and its Honourable Minister to make available to Ms Onyedinefu the information she applied for in her letter dated June 3, 2019 to the Ministry and its Honourable Minister is wrongful, unlawful and amounts to a gross violation to her right of access to information established and guaranteed by Section 1(1) and 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  3. A declaration that the failure and/or refusal of the Ministry and its Honourable Minister to make available to Ms Onyedinefu the information she applied for by her letter dated June 3, 2019 to the Ministry and its Honourable Minister, amounts to wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7 (5) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  4. A declaration that the failure and/or refusal of the Ministry and its Honourable Minister to give written notice to the journalist stating the reason for the denial of the information sought and requested is wrongful, unlawful and constitute a gross violation of Section 4 (b) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.
  5. An order of the Honourable Court directing the Ministry and its Honourable Minister to make available to Ms Onyedinefu, not later than seven days of the judgment of the Court, the information she applied for in her letter date June 3, 2019 relating to whether budgetary allocation for Nigeria’s participation in the Russia 2018 World Cup, including the total cost, were provided  for and approved  in the 2018 Appropriation Act of the Federal Government  and to specify the head of expenditure to which the costs were charged and other information requested for as specified in her letter of June 3, 2019  and  received on June 27, 2019 by the Ministry and its Honourable Minister pursuant to Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2o11.
  6. An order compelling the Attorney General of the Federation to initiate criminal proceedings against the Ministry and its Honourable Minister for the offence of wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7(5) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  7. The Sum of N1,000,000.00 (One Million Naira only) as exemplary and aggravated damages for the unlawful violation of the journalist’s right of access to information established and guaranteed by Sections 1(1) and 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 and wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7(4) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

Ms Onyedinefu is also asking the Court to determine the following questions:

  • Whether she is entitled to the information she applied for from the Federal Ministry of Finance, relating to whether budgetary allocation for Nigeria’s participation in the Russia 2018 World Cup, including the total cost, were provided for and approved  in the 2018 Appropriation Act of the Federal Government as specified in her letter of June 3, 2019  and received on June 27, 2019 by the Ministry and its Honourable Minister pursuant to Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2o11.
  • Whether the failure or refusal of the Ministry and its Honourable Minister to make available to her the information she applied for in the said letter of June 3, 2019 within seven days of their receiving the application, is not a violation of her right guaranteed by Section 4 (a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.
  • Whether the failure or refusal of the Ministry and its Honourable Minister to make available to her the information she applied for within seven days of their receiving the said application does not amount to wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7 (5) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  • Whether the failure of the Ministry and its Honourable Minister to give her notice stating the reason for the denial of the information she applied for is not a violation of her right guaranteed by Section 4 (b) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.

No date has been fixed for hering the suit which is being litigated under a sponsored project by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

Ministry of Youth and Sports Development Sued over Refusal to Provide Information

Charles Musa, Member of Media Rights Agenda’s (MRA) FOI Legal Response Network
Charles Musa, Member of Media Rights Agenda’s (MRA) FOI Legal Response Network

The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has been sued by Ms Godsgift Onyedinefu, a journalist with Global Sentinel, an online news magazine, over the Ministry’s refusal to provide her with the information she requested pursuant to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. Other parties joined in the suit are the  Minister of Youth and Sports Development and the Attorney General of the Federation.

The journalist sought, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, 2011, the following information: 1. A list of Nigerian footballers and coaches who travelled to Russia for the 2018 World Cup and whose travel expenses (including flights, accommodation, visa costs, living expenses and other allowances) were covered by the Ministry of Youth and Sports and/or through public funds.

  1. A list of supporters (other than government officials) who travelled to Russia for the 2018 World Cup to cheer the Nigerian team and whose travel expenses (including flights, accommodation, visa costs, living expenses and other allowances) were covered by the Ministry of Youth and Sports and/or through public fund, either in part or in full.
  2. A list of government officials and their aides or assistants (including the designations of everyone on the list and the public institutions to which they are affiliated) who travelled to Russia for the 2018 World Cup and whose travel expenses (including flights, accommodation, visa costs, living expenses and other allowances) were covered by the Ministry of Youth and Sports and/or through public funds, either in part or in full.
  3. The estimated duration of each person’s stay in Russia, including the date of departure from Nigeria (or other point of departure) and the date of return to Nigeria (or to some other location) as well as the total cost of each person’s travel to Russia to the Ministry of Youth and Sports for all aspects of the trip for which the Ministry was responsible.
  4. The total cost to the Ministry of Youth and Sports or the total amount budgeted by the Ministry of Youth and Sports for its participation and the participation of others sponsored by it in the Russia 2018 World Cup.
  5. Whether budgetary allocation for Ministry of Youth and Sport’s participation in the Russia 2018 World Cup as well as the participation of those who were sponsored by the Ministry, including the total cost referred to in Paragraph 5 above, were provided for and approved in the 2018 Appropriation Act of the Federal Government and specify the head of expenditure to which the costs were charged.
  6. The sources of fund and the amount from each source received by the Ministry of Youth and Sports relating to the Ministry’s participation in the Russia 2018 World Cup.
  7. Details of other in-kind sponsorship and partnership received by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports to participate in the Russia 2018 World Cup, including the coverage of each partnership or sponsorship.

The case was filed by Charles Musa, a member of Media Rights Agenda’s (MRA) FOI Legal Response Network, at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja. The suit is also asking the Court to determine the following questions:

  • Whether Ms Onyedinefu is entitled to the information she applied for from the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, relating to whether budgetary allocation for the Ministry’s participation in the Russia 2018 World Cup as well as the participation of those who were sponsored by it, were provided for and approved  in the 2018 Appropriation Act of the Federal Government  and to specify the head of expenditure to which the costs were charged and other requests for information as contained in her letter of June 3, 2019  and received on June 17, 2019 by the Ministry and its Honourable Minister pursuant to Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2o11.
  • Whether the failure or refusal of the Ministry and its Honourable Minister to make available to Ms Onyedinefu the information applied for by the journalist per the said letter of June 3, 2019 within seven days of their receiving the application, is not a violation of the Journalist’s right as guaranteed by Section 4 (a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.
  • Whether the failure or refusal of the Ministry and its Honourable Minister to make available to Ms Onyedinefu the information applied for by the journalist within seven days of their receiving the said application does not amount to wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7 (5) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.
  • Whether the failure of the Ministry and its Honourable Minister to give notice to Ms Onyedinefu stating the reason for the denial of the information applied for by the journalist is not a violation of the journalist’s right as guaranteed by Section 4 (b) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.

In the suit, Godsgift Onyedinefu is seeking the following reliefs:

  1. A declaration that she is entitled to receive from the Ministry and its Honourable Minister the information she applied for relating to whether budgetary allocation for the Ministry’s participation in the Russia 2018 World Cup as well as the participation of those who were sponsored by the Ministry, were provided for and approved  in the 2018 Appropriation Act of the Federal Government  and to specify the head of expenditure to which the costs were charged and other requests for information as specified in her letter of June 3, 2019  and was received on June 17,2019 by the Ministry and its Honourable Minister pursuant to Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2o11.
  2. A declaration that the failure, neglect and/or refusal of the Ministry and its Honourable Minister to make available to her the information she applied for through her letter dated June 3, 2019 to the Ministry and its Honourable Minister is wrongful, unlawful and amounts to a gross violation of her right of access to information established and guaranteed by Sections 1(1) and 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  3. A declaration that the failure and/or refusal by the Ministry to make available to her the information she applied for by her letter date June 3, 2019 to the Ministry and its Honourable Minister, amounts to wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7 (5) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  4. A declaration that the failure and/or refusal of the Ministry and its Minister to give her written notice stating the reason for the denial of the information sought and requested is wrongful, unlawful and constitute a gross violation of Section 4 (b) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  5. An Order of the Honourable Court directing the Ministry and its Minister to make available to her, not later than seven days of the judgment of the Court, the she information applied for by her letter dated June 3, 2019 relating to whether budgetary allocation for the Ministry’s participation in the Russia 2018 World Cup, as well as the participation of those who were sponsored by it, were provided  for and approved  in the 2018 Appropriation Act of the Federal Government  and to specify the head of expenditure to which the costs were charged and other requests for information as specified in her letter of June 3, 2019  and  received on June 17,2019 by the Ministry and its Minister pursuant to section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2o11.
  6. An Order compelling the Attorney General of the Federation to initiate criminal proceedings against the Ministry and its Minister for wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7(5) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  7. The Sum of N1,000.000.00 (One Million Naira only) as exemplary and aggravated damages for the unlawful violation of her right of access to information established and guaranteed by Sections 1(1) and 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 and wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7(4) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit. The suit is being litigated under a sponsored project by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

Journalist Drags Secretary to the Government of the Federation to Court over FOI Request Denial

Darlington Onyekwere, Member of Media Rights Agenda’s (MRA) FOI Legal Response Network
Darlington Onyekwere, Member of Media Rights Agenda’s (MRA) FOI Legal Response Network

A journalist, Ms Godsgift Onyedinefu, with Global Sentinel has filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja to compel the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to provide her with the information she requested from him through a letter dated June 3, 2019.

Relying on the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011 the journalist made a request for information to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation asking for the following information:

  1. A list of Nigerian footballers and coaches who travelled to Russia for the 2018 World Cup and whose travel expenses (including flights, accommodation, visa costs, living expenses and other allowances) were borne by the Federal Government and/or through public funds.
  2. A list of supporters (other than government officials) who travelled to Russia for the 2018 World Cup to cheer the Nigerian team and whose travel expenses (including flights, accommodation, visa costs, living expenses and other allowances) were paid for by the Federal Government and/or through public funds, either in part or in full.
  3. A list of government officials and their aides or assistants (including the designations of everyone on the list and the public institutions to which they are affiliated) who travelled to Russia for the 2018 World Cup as part of the Federal Government’s delegation and whose travel expenses (including flight, accommodation, visa costs, living expense and other allowances) were covered by the Federal Government and/or through public funds, either in part or in full.
  4. The duration of each person’s stay in Russia, including the date of departure from Nigeria (or other point of departure) and the date of return to Nigeria (or to some other location) as well as the total cost of each person’s travel to Russia to the Federal Government for all aspects of the trip for which the Federal Government was responsible.
  5. The total cost to the Federal Government or the total amount budgeted by the Federal Government for Nigeria’s participation in the Russia 2018 World Cup.
  6. Whether budgetary allocation for Nigeria’s participation in the Russia 2018 World Cup, including the total cost referred to in Paragraph 5 above, were provided for and approved in the 2018 Appropriation Act of the Federal Government and to specify the head of expenditure to which the costs were charged.

The office, however, failed to respond to the request within the seven-day timeframe from the time it received the request as provided by the Act.

In the suit filed on her behalf by Darlington Onyekwere a member of Media Rights Agenda’s (MRA) FOI Legal Response Network, at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, Godsgift Onyedinefu is seeking for a judicial review of the matter in accordance with Section 20 of the FOI Act which states that “An applicant who has been denied access to information, or a part thereof, may apply to the Court for judicial review of the matter within 30 days after the public institution denies or is deemed to have denied the application, or within such further time as the Court may either before or after the expiration of the 30 days fix or allow.”

The suit is seeking the following reliefs:

  • A declaration that Ms Onyedinefu is entitled to receive the information she applied for from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation having made a written application dated June 3, 2019 which was received by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation on June 17, 2019.
  • A declaration that the refusal of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to give Ms Onyedinefu the access to the information she requested in her letter of June 3, 2019 within the time limit set out in section 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 is a deemed denial of the said requested information under Section 7(4) of the Act.
  • A declaration that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation’s refusal and/or deemed denial of the information requested by Ms Onyedinefu in her letter of June 3, 2019 to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation on the details on the 2018 World Cup in Russia, is an infraction of Sections 1 (1) and 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 and the journalist’s guaranteed rights to such information under the said sections.
  • A declaration that the failure and/or refusal by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to make available to Ms Onyedinefu the information applied for in her letter dated June 3, 2019 to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, amounts to wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7 (5) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  • An order of the Court compelling the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to disclose to Ms Onyedinefu within seven days of the order, the detailed information required by the journalist in her letter dated June 3, 2019 which was received by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation on June 17, 2019.
  • An order of the Court compelling the Attorney General of the Federation to initiate criminal proceedings against the Secretary to the Government of the Federation for the offence of wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7(5) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  • An order of the Court granting the Sum of N1, 000.000.00 (One Million Naira) only as exemplary damages for the violation of the journalist’s right of access to information established and guaranteed by Section 1(1) and 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 and for wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7(4) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  • An order granting the sum of N500, 000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) against the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in favour of the Applicant as cost of the suit.

No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.

The suit is litigated under a sponsored project by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

CPJ Announces Launch of Updated Digital Safety Kit for Journalists

Joel Simon, Executive Director, CPJ
Joel Simon, Executive Director, CPJ

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has announced the launch of a new, updated Digital Safety Kit for journalists looking to better protect themselves, their sources, and their information. Produced by CPJ’s Emergencies Response Team, the toolkit combines six bite-sized safety notes on different topics in an accessible format that is easy to digest.

Each of the toolkit notes contain practical advice meant to help journalists navigate the various digital threats like phishing, and one for the specific scenario of crossing borders.

In the ever-changing world of digital security, the new format will allow CPJ to expand the kit to reflect the latest information. The date of any update or detailed review will appear in the text.

The kit is available in FrenchSpanish, and Russian and the text is licensed under Creative Commons (images are not covered). CPJ gives journalists and media organizations the freedom to use and share the text of the kit under the terms of the license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

The toolkit treats such digital security issues as securing personal accounts and devices; and communicating and using the Internet securely;

 The English version of the kit is available at Digital Safety Kit.