Ministry of Youth and Sports Development Sued over Refusal to Provide Information

Media Rights Agenda
By Media Rights Agenda August 11, 2019 13:21 Updated
Charles Musa, Member of Media Rights Agenda’s (MRA) FOI Legal Response Network

Charles Musa, Member of Media Rights Agenda’s (MRA) FOI Legal Response Network

The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has been sued by Ms Godsgift Onyedinefu, a journalist with Global Sentinel, an online news magazine, over the Ministry’s refusal to provide her with the information she requested pursuant to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. Other parties joined in the suit are the  Minister of Youth and Sports Development and the Attorney General of the Federation.

The journalist sought, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, 2011, the following information: 1. A list of Nigerian footballers and coaches who travelled to Russia for the 2018 World Cup and whose travel expenses (including flights, accommodation, visa costs, living expenses and other allowances) were covered by the Ministry of Youth and Sports and/or through public funds.

  1. A list of supporters (other than government officials) who travelled to Russia for the 2018 World Cup to cheer the Nigerian team and whose travel expenses (including flights, accommodation, visa costs, living expenses and other allowances) were covered by the Ministry of Youth and Sports and/or through public fund, either in part or in full.
  2. A list of government officials and their aides or assistants (including the designations of everyone on the list and the public institutions to which they are affiliated) who travelled to Russia for the 2018 World Cup and whose travel expenses (including flights, accommodation, visa costs, living expenses and other allowances) were covered by the Ministry of Youth and Sports and/or through public funds, either in part or in full.
  3. The estimated duration of each person’s stay in Russia, including the date of departure from Nigeria (or other point of departure) and the date of return to Nigeria (or to some other location) as well as the total cost of each person’s travel to Russia to the Ministry of Youth and Sports for all aspects of the trip for which the Ministry was responsible.
  4. The total cost to the Ministry of Youth and Sports or the total amount budgeted by the Ministry of Youth and Sports for its participation and the participation of others sponsored by it in the Russia 2018 World Cup.
  5. Whether budgetary allocation for Ministry of Youth and Sport’s participation in the Russia 2018 World Cup as well as the participation of those who were sponsored by the Ministry, including the total cost referred to in Paragraph 5 above, were provided for and approved in the 2018 Appropriation Act of the Federal Government and specify the head of expenditure to which the costs were charged.
  6. The sources of fund and the amount from each source received by the Ministry of Youth and Sports relating to the Ministry’s participation in the Russia 2018 World Cup.
  7. Details of other in-kind sponsorship and partnership received by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports to participate in the Russia 2018 World Cup, including the coverage of each partnership or sponsorship.

The case was filed by Charles Musa, a member of Media Rights Agenda’s (MRA) FOI Legal Response Network, at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja. The suit is also asking the Court to determine the following questions:

  • Whether Ms Onyedinefu is entitled to the information she applied for from the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, relating to whether budgetary allocation for the Ministry’s participation in the Russia 2018 World Cup as well as the participation of those who were sponsored by it, were provided for and approved  in the 2018 Appropriation Act of the Federal Government  and to specify the head of expenditure to which the costs were charged and other requests for information as contained in her letter of June 3, 2019  and received on June 17, 2019 by the Ministry and its Honourable Minister pursuant to Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2o11.
  • Whether the failure or refusal of the Ministry and its Honourable Minister to make available to Ms Onyedinefu the information applied for by the journalist per the said letter of June 3, 2019 within seven days of their receiving the application, is not a violation of the Journalist’s right as guaranteed by Section 4 (a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.
  • Whether the failure or refusal of the Ministry and its Honourable Minister to make available to Ms Onyedinefu the information applied for by the journalist within seven days of their receiving the said application does not amount to wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7 (5) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.
  • Whether the failure of the Ministry and its Honourable Minister to give notice to Ms Onyedinefu stating the reason for the denial of the information applied for by the journalist is not a violation of the journalist’s right as guaranteed by Section 4 (b) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.

In the suit, Godsgift Onyedinefu is seeking the following reliefs:

  1. A declaration that she is entitled to receive from the Ministry and its Honourable Minister the information she applied for relating to whether budgetary allocation for the Ministry’s participation in the Russia 2018 World Cup as well as the participation of those who were sponsored by the Ministry, were provided for and approved  in the 2018 Appropriation Act of the Federal Government  and to specify the head of expenditure to which the costs were charged and other requests for information as specified in her letter of June 3, 2019  and was received on June 17,2019 by the Ministry and its Honourable Minister pursuant to Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2o11.
  2. A declaration that the failure, neglect and/or refusal of the Ministry and its Honourable Minister to make available to her the information she applied for through her letter dated June 3, 2019 to the Ministry and its Honourable Minister is wrongful, unlawful and amounts to a gross violation of her 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 and/or refusal by the Ministry to make available to her the information she applied for by her letter date June 3, 2019 to the Ministry and its Honourable Minister, 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 and/or refusal of the Ministry and its Minister to give her written notice stating the reason for the denial of the information sought and requested is wrongful, unlawful and constitute a gross violation of Section 4 (b) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  5. An Order of the Honourable Court directing the Ministry and its Minister to make available to her, not later than seven days of the judgment of the Court, the she information applied for by her letter dated June 3, 2019 relating to whether budgetary allocation for the Ministry’s participation in the Russia 2018 World Cup, as well as the participation of those who were sponsored by it, were provided  for and approved  in the 2018 Appropriation Act of the Federal Government  and to specify the head of expenditure to which the costs were charged and other requests for information as specified in her letter of June 3, 2019  and  received on June 17,2019 by the Ministry and its Minister pursuant to section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2o11.
  6. An Order compelling the Attorney General of the Federation to initiate criminal proceedings against the Ministry and its Minister for wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7(5) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  7. The Sum of N1,000.000.00 (One Million Naira only) 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 Freedom of Information Act, 2011 and wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7(4) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit. The suit is being litigated under a sponsored project by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

Media Rights Agenda
By Media Rights Agenda August 11, 2019 13:21 Updated
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