Journalist Sues Rivers State University over Denial of FOI Request

Media Rights Agenda
By Media Rights Agenda June 21, 2019 23:12 Updated

FB_IMG_1533137317080Mr. Mark Lenu, a journalist, with Wish 99.5 FM, Port Harcourt has sued the Rivers State University over its failure to make available to him the information he requested pursuant to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.

The Journalist had requested from the institution the following information:

  1. The total sum received from regular students, postgraduate students and pre-degree students, as tuition fees for the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 academic sessions.
  2. The unspent amount remitted to the Rivers State Government from the allocations received by the institution for the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 sessions.
  3. The allocations received by the institution from the River State Government for salaries and allowances for teaching and non-teaching staff of the institution in 2017 and 2018.
  4. A list of the names of all the teaching and non-teaching staff in the nominal roll of the institution.

The suit filed by Mr K.I.C Chukwuezie, a member of Media Rights Agenda’s (MRA) FOI Legal Response Network, in an originating summons on April 30, 2019 with suit no: PHC/1302/2019 at the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, is seeking the following reliefs:

  1. A Declaration that journalist is entitled as of right to receive the information applied for from the Rivers State University and its Vice Chancellor having made a written application, and the Rivers State University and its Vice Chancellor having received the same request on April 10, 2019.
  2. A Declaration that the refusal of the Rivers State University and its Vice-Chancellor to make available to him the information he applied for in his letter to them is wrongful, unlawful and amounts to a gross violation to his 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 refusal by the Rivers State University and its Vice-Chancellor to make available to him the information he applied for or give written notice to him in his letter to the Rivers State University and its Vice-Chancellor amounts to wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7(5) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 and gross violation of Section 4(b) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  4. An Order of the Court on the Rivers State University and its Vice-Chancellor to make available to him a hard copy of the information he requested and soft copy through his email: marklenu15@gmail.com within seven days of the judgment of the Court.
  5. An Order directing the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to initiate criminal proceedings against the Rivers State University and its Vice Chancellor for wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7(5) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  6. And for such orders or further orders as the Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance.

Mark is also asking the Court to determine the following questions in the suit:

  1. Whether he is entitled to the information he applied for from the River State University and its Vice-Chancellor pursuant to Section 1(1) of Freedom of Information Act, 2011, his application having been received by them on April 10, 2019.
  2. Whether the refusal of the River State University and its Vice-Chancellor 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.
  3. Whether the failure of the River State University and its Vice-Chancellor to make available to him the information applied for per Exhibit ‘A’ 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.
  4. Whether the failure of the River State University and its Vice-Chancellor to give him written notice stating the reason for the denial of the information he applied for is not a violation of his right, guaranteed by Section 4 (b) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.

The case is yet to be assigned to a judge for hearing. 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 23:12 Updated
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