FOI: Coscharis Motors Appeals Court Order to Disclose Purchase Documents of Bullet Proof Cars to EIE

Dr. Cosmas Maduka
Dr. Cosmas Maduka, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Coscharis Motors

Lagos, Monday, June 15, 2015: Coscharis Motors Limited has lodged an appeal against the order of a Federal High Court in Lagos directing it to disclose to Enough is Enough (EIE) Nigeria information requested by the organization on the 2013 purchase of two bullet-proof cars for then Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Oduah.

In a Notice of Appeal, with seven grounds of appeal, lodged at the Court of Appeal in Lagos by its lawyer, Mr. Osita Mbamalu, the company is asking the appellate court to set aside the order of Justice Mohammed Yunusa issued on April 28, 2015 and dismiss the suit filed by a Lagos lawyer, Mr. Ayodeji Acquah, on behalf of EIE, on March 14, 2014.

In the judgment appealed against, Justice Yunusa granted EIE’s prayers for:

  • A declaration that the failure and/or refusal by Coscharis Motors to disclose or make available to EIE the information requested in the organization’s letter to the company dated October 28, 2013 is a violation of EIE’s right of access to information guaranteed by Section 1(1) and Section 4(a) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011;
  • A declaration that the failure and/or refusal by Coscharis Motors to give EIE a written notice that access to all or part of the information it requested would not be granted and stating reasons for the denial and the section of the FOI Act upon which the company relied to deny EIE access to the information it requested amounts to a flagrant violation of the Act and is therefore wrongful; and
  • An order of mandamus compelling Coscharis Motors to disclose the information requested in EIE’s letter dated October 28, 2013 namely the invoice(s) and landing documents for the two BMW vehicles acquired by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) with chassis numbers WBAHP41050DW68032 and WBAHP41010DW68044; and details of the payment for the vehicles, including whether they were paid for in full or hire purchased as reported by the media.

But in its Notice of Appeal, the company complained that Justice Yunusa erred in law when he held that the provisions of the FOI Act applied to private companies such as Coscharis Motors and that by enjoying a duty waiver on the two BMW cars, the company became a “private body utilizing public funds” and thus subject to the application of the Act.

Coscharis Motors also contended that the judge was wrong in failing to consider all the issues raised by the company in its address in opposition to the suit, especially relating to whether the company was not justified under Section 12 of the FOI Act in withholding the information requested by EIE.

It also complained that the judge erred in law when he held that the provisions of the FOI Act applied to private companies because the legislators would have expressly excluded its application to private companies if they so desired.

Coscharis Motors claimed that the judge was wrong to have assumed jurisdiction to hear the suit when the jurisdiction of the court had not been duly invoked in accordance with the provisions of the FOI Act and that he also erred in law when he failed to deliver his ruling in the case within 90 days after the conclusion of final address as provided by Section 294 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and thereby occasioned a “grave miscarriage of justice” on the company.

Besides, the company alleged, the judge erred in law when he imported extraneous considerations in the interpretation of the FOI Act in determining the applicability or otherwise of its provisions to private companies such as Coscharis Motors.

The matter comes up on June 17, 2015 for the setting of the record of appeal.