28th October, 2014
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has struck out the freedom of information suit filed by the incorporated trustees of the Media Right Agenda(MRA).
MRA alongside incorporated trustees of Public and Private Development had filed the suit urging the court to compel the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Attorney General of the Federation to disclose information on the procurement of the controversial BMW cars bought for former aviation minister, Princess Stella Oduah.
The presiding judge Ibrahim Buba in his ruling on Monday said that the information the plaintiffs are asking for went outside the contemplation of the freedom of information act.
He further declared that the requested information is a published material that falls under the exception stated in section 26(a) of the Freedom of Information Act and that the budgetary allocation for the referred procurement process was contained in the 2013 budget of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The plaintiffs through their counsel, Ayodeji Acquah had contended that the failure and or refusal of NCAA to disclose or make available to the plaintiffs the information requested in their letter dated October 21, 2013 amounts to violation of applicants right to access to information established and guaranteed by section 1(1) and section 4(a) of the freedom and information act 2011.
The plaintiffs had requested for the first NCAA annual budget and the public procurement plans, procurement record for the purchase of two BMW 760 LI vehicles, evidence of advertisements to that effect, a list of bids tendered, copies of bid evaluation meetings, pro forma invoice of those documents as well as documents showing delivery of procured vehicles among other prayers.
In an affidavit deposed to by one John Gbadamosi, the plaintiffs insisted that the information requested does not come within the purview of the types of information exempted from disclosure by the provisions of the FOI Act therefore NCAA has no reason whatsoever to deny them access to the information sought for.
The information requested for, apart from not being exempted from disclosure under the FOI Act, bothers on an issue of national interest, public concern, social justice, good governance, transparency and accountability”,
However the defence counsel, Emeka Okpoko in his objections said the plaintiffs did not meet up with the condition precedent before instituting an action against the respondents.
He also argued that the plaintiffs failed to issue the 30 days notice required by section 24(2) of the Civil Aviation Act 2006. Consequently the suit as constituted is incompetent and therefore the court has no jurisdiction to entertain same, As a result, he prayed the court to strike out the suit for lack of jurisdiction.
Justice Buba in his ruling agreed with the submission of the defence and struck out the suit, but awarded no cost.