Editor Drags National Orthopaedic Hospital to Court for Failure to Comply with the FOI Act 

Media Rights Agenda
By Media Rights Agenda January 28, 2020 08:42 Updated
Kingsley Chime, Freedom of Information Legal Response Network

Kingsley Chime, Member of Freedom of Information Legal Response Network

The Editor of the online news portal, Social Development News (SDN), Mrs Funmi Falobi, has dragged the National Orthopaedic Hospital in Igbobi, Lagos and its Medical Director to court for the failure of the Hospital to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, even after being served a demand letter requesting it to perform its statutory duties under the Law. She is claiming that the institution’s inaction violated her right of access to information established and guaranteed by Sections 1(1) and 4 of the FOI Act and is demanding N1 million as exemplary and aggravated damages.

The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) is joined as a respondent in the suit.

Mr K. I. Chime of Noble Path Attorneys, Mrs Falobi’s counsel filed the suit at the Federal High Court in Lagos on her behalf. Chime is a member of the Freedom of Information Legal Response Network, established by Media Rights Agenda (MRA).

In the case, initiated through an Originating Summons in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/2405. Mrs Falobi is asking the court to grant her permission to apply for judicial review under the FOI Act and to seek the following reliefs:

  • A declaration that the failure and/or refusal by National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos to proactively publish certain information in its custody as specified in Section 2(3) of the FOI Act and widely disseminate the information as required by Section 2(4) of the Act amounts to a violation of her right of access to information, established and guaranteed by Section 1(1) and 2(4) of the Act;
  • A declaration that the failure and/or refusal by National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos to proactively publish the title and address of its appropriate officer to whom applications for information should be sent as required by Section 2(3)(f) of the FOI Act amounts to a violation of her right of access to information established and guaranteed by Section 1(1) and 2(4) of the Act;
  • A declaration that the failure and/or refusal by National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos to comply with Section 13 of the FOI Act in training of its officials on the public’s right of access to information and records held by it for the effective implementation of the FOI Act amounts to a violation of her right of access to information established and guaranteed by the Act;
  • A declaration that the failure of National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos to widely disseminate and make readily available to members of the public the activities, records and information referred to in Sections 2(1), (2), (3), (4) and (5) of the Act through print, electronic, online media and/or at the Head office of National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos amounts to a flagrant violation of the provisions of these sections of the Act;
  • A declaration that the failure of National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos to submit to the Attorney-General of the Federation its annual reports on its implementation of the FOI Act amounts to a violation of Section 29(1) and (2) of the Act;
  • An order of mandamus compelling National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos to comply with the provisions of Section 2(1), (2), (3), (4) and (5) of the FOI Act by widely disseminating and making readily available to members of the public by print, electronic, online media and/or at the Head office of National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos, the activities, records and information specified under these provisions of the Act;
  • An order of mandamus compelling National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos to train its officials on the public’s right of access to information and records held by the institution for the effective implementation of the Act as required by Section 13 of the Act;
  • An order compelling National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos to submit its annual report for the year 2018, including that of previous years, of the implementation of the FOI Act, as required by Section 29(1) of the Act; and
  • The sum of N1 million 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 Act.

Mrs Falobi had in a demand letter dated November 12, 2019, sent to National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos requested it to fulfil its statutory obligations under the FOI Act and to comply with the provisions of Section 2(3), (4) and (5); Section 29(1) and (2); and Section 13 of the Act.

The Hospital received and acknowledged receipt of the letter on November 20, 2019, but refused to comply with her requests contained in the letter.

The Court has not fixed a date for the hearing of the suit.

Media Rights Agenda
By Media Rights Agenda January 28, 2020 08:42 Updated
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