Court Adjourns Hearing in MRA’s Suit over NITDA’s Failure to Disclose Details of Proposed Regulation of Online Platform

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Ms. Rosemary Onu, MRA’s Counsel

A Federal High Court in Abuja has again adjourned hearing to March 12, 2024, in a suit filed by Media Rights Agenda (MRA) against the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) over the agency’s refusal to disclose details requested by the organization under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act of its proposed regulatory framework for social media and other online platforms.

In the suit, MRA is asking the court to compel NITDA to disclose the information relating its “Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries”.

The suit, filed on July 29, 2022, accuses NITDA of withholding details requested by MRA concerning its proposed regulatory framework for social media and other online platforms, outlined in a “Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries.”

MRA contends that NITDA’s refusal to provide the requested information violates its right of access to information and constitutes a blatant violation of the FOI Act. The organization filed the suit against NITDA and the Attorney-General of the Federation through its Abuja-based legal representative, Ms. Rosemary Onu, along with Ms. Obioma Okonkwo and Mr. Monday Arunsi.

The suit seeks various reliefs from the court, including declarations that NITDA’s failure to grant access to the requested information and its refusal to provide a written notice explaining the denial amount to violations of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011. MRA is also requesting an order directing NITDA to disclose specific information, such as the directive from President Muhammadu Buhari, the list of collaborating entities, details of meetings, and related documents.

Additionally, MRA is seeking an order for NITDA to pay ₦1,000,000.00 (One Million Naira) as exemplary and aggravated damages for the unlawful violation of MRA’s right of access to information. The organization is also requesting an order compelling the Attorney General of the Federation to initiate criminal proceedings against NITDA for the alleged wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7(5) of the Freedom of Information Act.

The case was set for a hearing before the Federal High Court, presided over by Justice Nkeonye Evelyn Maha, on October 11, 2023. However, the court did not sit on that day, leading to a further adjournment of the case to March 12, 2024, for the hearing and adoption of the filed processes.