Court Fixes Hearing in FOI Suit Against NDDC  

Media Rights Agenda
By Media Rights Agenda June 21, 2019 23:27 Updated
Professor Nelson Brambaifa,CEO, NDDC

Professor Nelson Brambaifa,CEO, NDDC

A journalist with Wish 99.5 FM, Port Harcourt, Mark Lenu, had dragged NDDC and its Managing Director to court for failing to provide him with information he requested for pursuant to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011. He joined the Attorney General of the Federation as party to the suit.

The suit was filed on May 6, 2019 at the Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court over the Commission’s failure to grant him access to the information he requested through a letter dated April 11, 2019.

In his letter to NDDC, Mark requested for:

  • The budget approved by the Niger Delta Development Commission for scholarship grants for foreign students of Niger Delta extraction for their post-tertiary academic training for the period of 2017 and 2018;
  • The list of beneficiaries of the programme for the period 2017 and 2018;
  • The sum spent on each of the beneficiaries; and
  • The total sum spent on the programme for the period 2017 and 2018.

In the absence any response from the Commission which considered “deemed denial” by the FOI Act, Mark, through his lawyer, K.I.C Chukwuezie, a member of the FOI Legal Response Network and a partner in the law firm of Dace-law Attorney & Partners, filed an originating Summons for the determination of the following questions:

  • Whether the Mark is entitled to the information applied for by him of the NDDC and its Managing Director pursuant to Section 1(1) of Freedom of Information Act, 2011, his application having been received by them April 11, 2019.
  • Whether the failure or refusal of NDDC and its Managing Director to make available to him the information he requested for within seven days of their receiving the application is not a violation of his  right guaranteed by Section 4(a) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  • Whether the failure or refusal of NDDC and its Managing Director to make available to him the information he applied for within seven days of their receiving the 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 NDDC and its Managing Director to give written notice to Mark stating the reason for the denial of the information applied for by him is not a violation of his right guaranteed by Section 4(b) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

Mark sought for a number of reliefs including:

  • A Declaration that he is entitled as of right to receive the information applied for from NDDC and its Managing Director having made a written application, and the NDDC and its Managing Director having received the same request on April 11, 2019.
  • A Declaration that the failure and/or refusal of NDDC and its Managing Director to make available to him the information he applied for in his letter to them is wrongful, unlawful and amounts to a gross violation of his right 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 NDDC and its Managing Director to make available to him the information he applied for in his letter to them 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 NDDC and its Managing Director to give written notice to him stating the reason for the denial of the information he sought and requested is wrong, unlawful and constitute a gross violation of Section 4(b) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  • An Order of the Court on NDDC and its Managing Director to make available to him a hard copy of the information he requested within seven days of the judgment of the Court.
  • An Order of the Court on NDDC and its Managing Director to make available to him the information he applied for through his email: marklenu15@gmail.com within seven days of the judgment of the Court.
  • An Order directing the Attorney General to initiate criminal proceedings against the NDDC and its Managing Director for the offence of wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7(5) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  • Award of the Sum of N1, 000.000.00 (One Million Naira) only, as exemplary and aggravated damages for the unlawful violation of his right of access to information established and guaranteed by Sections 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.
  • And for such orders or further orders as the Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance.

The suit is litigated under Media Rights Agenda’s Project funded by Open Society Initiatives for West Africa (OSIWA).

Media Rights Agenda
By Media Rights Agenda June 21, 2019 23:27 Updated
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