Journalist Sues University of Port Harcourt and Others for Non-Compliance with the FOI Act

Media Rights Agenda
By Media Rights Agenda May 30, 2019 15:24

law 6Mr. Mark Lenu, a journalist with Wish 99.5 FM, Port Harcourt, has dragged the University of Port Harcourt and the Vice Chancellor of the University to court for failing to make available to him information he requested under the freedom of information Act, 2011. He joined the Attorney General of the Federation as a party to the suit.

In an Originating Summons filed on April 30, 2019 at the Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court with suit no FHC/PH/CS/98/2019, Mark is also seeking a declaration that that he is entitled as of right to receive the information he applied for from the University, having made a written application on April 5, 2019.

The suit further seeks for an order for University to make available to Mark the information he applied for within seven days of the judgment of the Court. He is also demanding from the court an order directing the Attorney General of the Federation to initiate criminal proceedings against the University for wrongful denial of access to information under the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

The suit was filed because of the failure of the University to grant access to details of the budget approved by the Commission for Scholarship grants for foreign students of Niger State extraction for their post-tertiary academic training for 2017 and 2018.

According to the lead counsel, Mr. K.I.C Chukwuezie, a member of the FOI Legal Response Network of the law firm, Dace-law Attorney & Partners, “the people’s right to know is a basic human right to enable them to take part in the development of their industrial life and democracy, about which the citizen of a free country aspires in the broader horizon of the right to live in this age. This right to participate in democracy is enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution. This right has reached new dimensions and urgency and puts greater responsibility upon those who take upon the obligation to inform.”

Mark is asking for the following reliefs:
a. A Declaration that the Plaintiff is entitled as of right to receive the information applied for from the 1st and 2nd Defendants having made a written application, and the 1st and 2nd Defendants having received the same request on the 5th day of April 2019.
b. A Declaration that the failure and/or refusal of the University of Port Harcourt and its Vice Chancellor to make available to him the information he applied for in his letter to the University of Port Harcourt and its Vice Chancellor 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.
c. A declaration that the failure and/or refusal by the University of Port Harcourt and its Vice Chancellor 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.
d. A Declaration that the failure and/or refusal of the University of Port Harcourt and its Vice Chancellor to give him written notice stating the reason for the denial of the information he sought and requested in his letter is wrong, unlawful and constitute a gross violation of Section 4 (b) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
e. An Order of the Court on the University of Port Harcourt and its Vice Chancellor to make available to him a hard copy of the information he requested within seve days of the judgment of the Court.
f. An Order of the Court on the University of Port Harcourt and its Vice Chancellor 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.
g. An Order directing the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to initiate criminal proceedings against the University of Port Harcourt and its Vice Chancellor for of wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7(5) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
h. An 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.
i. 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 of the University of Port Harcourt and its Vice Chancellor pursuant to Section 1(1) of Freedom of Information Act, 2011, his application having been received by them April 5, 2019.
2. Whether the failure or refusal of the University of Port Harcourt 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 the his right, guaranteed by Section 4(a) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
3. Whether the failure or refusal of the University of Port Harcourt and its Vice Chancellor to make available to him within seven days of their receiving the application, the information applied for, 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 University of Port Harcourt 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 Court has fixed June 19, 2019 for hearing of the case. This prosecution of the suit is been supported by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) in collaboration with Media Rights Agenda (MRA).

Media Rights Agenda
By Media Rights Agenda May 30, 2019 15:24
test
Write a comment

No Comments

No Comments Yet!

Let me tell You a sad story ! There are no comments yet, but You can be first one to comment this article.

Write a comment

Only registered users can comment.

STOP IMPUNITY NIGERIA