Court Adjourns Hearing of MRA’s Suit on NITDA’s Failure to Disclose Details of Proposed Regulation of Online Platform to October 11, 2023

0
134
Mr. Monday Arunsi
MRA’s Legal Officer

A Federal High Court in Abuja has adjourned hearing to October 11, 2023, in a suit by  Media Rights Agenda (MRA)  against the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) for refusing to disclose details requested by the organization under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act on its proposed regulatory framework for social media and other online platforms. 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 Lagos based non-governmental organization with its mission focus on promoting freedom of expression and the right of access to information in Nigeria had on July 29, 2022, instituted the suit against NITDA and the Attorney-General of the Federation through its Abuja-based lawyer, Ms. Rosemary Onu, leading Ms. Obioma Okonkwo and Mr. Monday Arunsi. In the suit, MRA contends that NITDA’s refusal to provide it with the information it requested amounts to a breach of its right of access to information as well as a flagrant violation of the FOI Act.

MRA is praying the Court for the following reliefs:

  • A declaration that the failure and/or refusal by NITDA to grant access or make available to MRA, the information requested by it in a letter dated June 15, 2022 constitutes a violation of its rights of access to information established and guaranteed by Sections 1(1), 4 (a and b) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  • A declaration that the failure and/or refusal by NITDA to give MRA a written notice that access to all or part of the information requested would not be granted and stating reasons for the denial and the section of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011, upon which NITDA rely to deny MRA access to the information requested by it in its letter dated June 15, 2022, amounts to a flagrant violation of Sections 4 (b), 7 (1), (2) and 3 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  • An order directing NITDA to disclose or make available to MRA, the following:
  1. A copy of the letter or other document containing the directive given by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to develop a draft code of practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries.
  • A list of all the interactive computer service platforms, civil society organizations and expert groups that collaborated with NITDA in the development of the Code of practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries issued and presented for public input on 13th June 2022 or thereabout.
  • The dates and venues of meetings held with interactive computer service platforms, civil society organizations, expert groups and other stakeholders to discuss the development of the Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries as well as a list of participants at each of the meetings.
  • Copies of the minutes of each meetings held with interactive computer service platforms, civil society organizations, expert groups and other stakeholders to discuss the development of the Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries
  • Copies of all documents including letters, memoranda or other submissions containing inputs made by stakeholders including the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Tik Tok, Instagram, Google and other interactive computer service platforms, civil society organizations and expert groups in the development of the draft code of practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries
  • An order directing NITDA Respondent to pay to the Applicant the sum of ₦1,000.000.00 (One Million Naira) only on the footing of exemplary and aggravated damages for the flagrant and unlawful violation of the MRA’s right of access to Information established and guaranteed by Section 1(1) & 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  • An order directing compelling the Attorney General of the federation to initiate criminal proceedings against NITDA for the offence of wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7 (5) of the Freedom of Information Act.

When the matter came up for hearing before the Federal High Court presided by Justice Nkeonye Evelyn Maha on July 3, 2023 it was further adjourned for hearing and adoption of the processes filed in this suit.