FOI Suit Against University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital Adjourned

Kingdom Chukwuezie Esq.
Kingdom Chukwuezie Esq.

Justice James Kolawole Omotosho of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt on June 20, 2019, adjourned hearing in an application filed by a journalist, Mark Lenu, challenging the failure of the University of Port Harcourt to disclose to him the information he requested on April 5, 2019

At the last adjourned date, his Counsel, Kingdom Chukwuezie Esq. informed the court that the originating processes has been served on the University and Attorney General Of the Federation (AGF). He said however, the institution filed a notice of preliminary objection, which he has responded to, but that he was yet to reply the counter affidavit served on him.

The University’s counsel in his application argued that under the sheriffs Civil Process Act, leave of court is required to affect service in Abuja for the AGF to appear before the Court in Port Harcourt. He was also argued that Mark in His application should have provided the specific names of student who paid for the student industrial work experience scheme for the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 academic sessions, that these informations are personal informations exempted under the FOI Act, and that there was no reasonable cause of action for the suit.

The AGF who was joined as a party to the suit served a counter affidavit and a notice of Preliminary Objection. The AGF in his preliminary objection submitted that he is not a proper party in an action brought under the suit as no claim was made against him. He said further that he is not a necessary party as his presence was not essential in order for the court to adjudicate the rights of others or for the proceeding to be completed. In addition, the AGF also submitted that Mark did not disclose a reasonable cause of action and that he lacks locus to institute the suit.

Mark’s Counsel, Kingdom Chukwuezie, prayed the Court for a short adjournment to enable him respond to the counter affidavit of the University of Port Harcourt and the Vice Chancellor of the Institution which he said he was still working on. The Court thereafter adjourned the hearing of the applications to June 27, 2019.

Mark Lenu had sued University of Port Harcourt over its failure to provide information regarding the students’ industrial work experience scheme for the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 academic sessions.

The suit is litigated under Media Rights Agenda’s Project funded by Open Society Initiatives for West Africa (OSIWA).