Court Grants CSJ Leave to Sue Nigeria Railway Corporation for Information Denial

0
16
Fidet Okhiria, MD, Nigeria Railway Corporation
Fidet Okhiria, MD, Nigeria Railway Corporation

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has granted the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), a non-governmental organization, leave to sue the Nigeria Railway Corporation for its refusal to furnish the information requested on the documentation evidencing the purported remittance of the sum of N122,242,337.63 to the tax authorities for the year 2017.

The Court granted CSJ leave to proceed with its claim against the Nigeria Railway Corporation following the motion exparte argued on behalf of the organisation by Ms. MorisolaAlaba and Mr. SideeqRabiu of the law firm, FOI Attorneys.

Joined as the respondent in the suit against the Nigeria Railway Corporation is the Managing Director of the Corporation.

The motion ex-parte, which was brought pursuant to Order 34 Rules 1, 3 (1) (2) Federal High Court (civil procedure) rules 2019 and Sections 1, 4 and 20 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 and Section 48 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, was moved by the leading counsel, Ms MorisolaAlaba on July 1, 2020. MsAlaba argued, before Justice Oguntoyinbo, that CSJ has a right under Sections 2 (6) and 1(3) of the FOI Act to institute proceedings in court to compel any public institution, including the Nigeria Railway Corporation, to comply with the provisions of Section 2 of the Act and the Act in entirety respectively.

She further argued that the refusal of the Corporation to make the requested information available to the Applicant is a violation of the right of the applicant to access information under the Freedom of Information Act. The ruling was, however, delivered on July 15, 2020.

In the suit FHC/L/CS/475/2020, CSJ is seeking the following Declarations and Orders:

  • A declaration that the failure and/or refusal by the Nigeria Railway Corporation and its Managing Director to disclose or make available to CSJ the information requested by it in the its letter to the Nigeria Railway Corporation dated January 18, 2020 amounts to a violation of the its right of access to information established and guaranteed by Sections 1(1), and 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  • A declaration that the failure and/or refusal by the Nigeria Railway Corporation and its Managing Director to disclose or make available to CSJ the information requested by it in its letter to the Nigeria Railway Corporation dated January 8, 2020 amounts to wrongful denial of access to information under section 7(5) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  • A declaration that the failure and/or refusal by the Nigeria Railway Corporation and its Managing Director to give written notice to CSJ that access to all or part of the information requested will not be granted, stating reasons for denial and the section of the Act under which the denial is made amounts to a violation of section 4(b) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
  1. An Order compelling the Nigeria Railway Corporation and its Managing Director to disclose or make the following information available to CSJ:
  • The documentation evidencing the sum of N122,242,337.63 remitted to the tax authorities in accordance with the audit recommendation as stated in the Auditor General’s Annual Report on the Accounts of the Federation of Nigeria for the year 2017.
  1. The Sum of N1,000,000.00 (One Million Naira) only on the footing of exemplary and aggravated damages for unlawful violation of the Applicant’s right of access to information established and guaranteed by Section 1(1) and 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 and wrongful denial access to information under Section 7 (4) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

The case has been adjourned to October 5, 2020 for hearing of the application.