Journalist Sues National Broadcasting Commission for Refusal to Grant FOI Request

Media Rights Agenda
By Media Rights Agenda August 11, 2019 13:53 Updated
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.

Media Rights Agenda
By Media Rights Agenda August 11, 2019 13:53 Updated
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