ICIR Sues Bureau of Public Enterprise over Refusal to Provide Information

Media Rights Agenda
By Media Rights Agenda June 21, 2019 22:51 Updated

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The International Centre for Investigative Report (ICIR) has dragged the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) to Court over the Bureau’s refusal to provide the Centre with the information it requested pursuant to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. Joined as defendants in the suit are the Director General of BPE and the Attorney General of the FederationThe suit has been assigned to a judge but a date is yet to be fixed for hearing.

The ICIR sought, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, 2011, the following information:

  1. Details of all bidding documents approved by the BPE on the concession of Terminal B, old Warri Port formerly operated by the NPA (Nigerian Port Authority)
  2. Details of the terms of agreement between the preferred bidder and the BPE

The was case filed by Uche Amulu, a member of MRA’s FOI Legal Response Network, at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.

The case is asking the Court to determine the following questions:

  • Whether ICIR is entitled to the information it applied for on May 9, 2019 from the Bureau of Public Enterprise and its Director General pursuant to Section 1(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, its application having been received by the Bureau of Public Enterprise and its Director General on May 6, 2019.
  • Whether the failure by the Bureau of Public Enterprise and its Director-General to make available to ICIR the information applied for within seven days of their receipt of the ICIR application is not a violation of ICIR’s right guaranteed by Section 4(a) of the Freedom of Information Act, there being no notice by the Bureau of Public Enterprise and its Director General to ICIR that the information applied for was denied and the reason for the denial as provided in Section 4(b) of the Freedom of Information Act.
  • Whether Failure of the Bureau of Public Enterprise and its Director-General to make available to ICIR the information applied for by the ICIR within seven days of their receiving the application does not amount to wrongful denial access to information under Section 7(5) of the Freedom of Information Act.

In the suit, ICIR is seeking the following reliefs:

  1. A declaration that ICIR is entitled to receive the information it applied for from the Bureau of Public Enterprise and its Director General having made a written application for same on May 9, 2019 and the Bureau of Public Enterprise and its Director General having received the application same day.
  2. A declaration that the failure of the Bureau of Public Enterprise and its Director-General to make available to ICIR the information applied for through its letter dated May 9, 2019 to the Bureau of Public Enterprise and its Director-General is wrongful, unlawful and amounts to a gross violation to the ICIR’s 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 of the Bureau of Public Enterprise and its Director-General to make available to ICIR the information applied for in ICIR’s letter dated May 9, 2019 to the Bureau of Public Enterprise and its Director General 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 of the Bureau of Public Enterprise and its Director-General to give written notice to ICIR stating the reason for the denial of the information sought and requested by ICIR is wrongful, unlawful and constitute a gross violation of Section 4(b) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  5. An order of the Court on the Bureau of Public Enterprise and its Director-General to make available to ICIR the information it applied for within seven days of the judgment of the Court.
  6. An order compelling the Attorney General of the Federation to initiate criminal proceedings against the Bureau of Public Enterprise 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.
  7. Award of the Sum of N1, 000.000.00 (One Million Naira) only on the footing of exemplary and aggravated damages for the unlawful violation of ICIR’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).

Media Rights Agenda
By Media Rights Agenda June 21, 2019 22:51 Updated
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