Journalist Sues Nigeria’s Airports Authority  for Refusal to Provide Information under FOI Act

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Uche Amulu, Member of Media Rights Agenda’s FOI Legal Response Network
Uche Amulu, Member of Media Rights Agenda’s FOI Legal Response Network

The Abuja Bureau Chief of Triumph newspapers, Mr AtikuSarki, has filed a suit against the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and its Managing Director over their refusal to grant him access to the information he requested pursuant to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011.

Joined as a defendant in the suit is the Attorney General of the Federation, who has oversight responsibility for the effective implementation of the FOI Act.

Filed as a Motion Ex-parte, it was brought pursuant to Order 34 Rule 1, 3 (1) (2) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2019, Regulation 4.1 (8) of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019 and Sections 1, 4, 20 and 22 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 (“FOI Act”) and under the inherent jurisdiction of the Court.

In the suit filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, Atiku is praying for an order of the Court granting him leave to apply for a review pursuant to the FOI Act and seeking the following reliefs:

  • A declaration that the failure and/or refusal by the 1st Respondent to grant the Applicant access to the information requested in the Applicant’s letter dated August 17, 2020, is a violation of the Applicant’s right of access to information established and guaranteed by Sections 1(1), & 4 of the FOI Act.
  • A declaration that failure and/or refusal by 1st Respondent to grant the Applicant access to the information requested in the Applicant’s letter dated August 17, 2020, constitutes a wrongful denial of access to information under section 7(5) of the FOI Act.
  • A declaration that the failure and/or refusal by the 1st Respondent to give written notice to the Applicant that access to all or part of the information requested will not be granted, and stating reasons for the denial, and the section of the FOI Act under which the denial is made amounts to a violation of section 4(b) of the FOI Act.
  • An order compelling the 1st Respondent to disclose or make the following information available to the Applicant:
  1. Copies of all of FAAN’s data protection policies, issued in conformity with the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019;
  2. The name and contact details of FAAN’s Data Protection Officer designated in accordance with the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019, together with its relevant data privacy instruments and data protection directives;
  3. Details of all capacity building training and other capacity-building activities undertaken for FAAN’s Data Protection Officer and other personnel involved in any form of data processing since the issuance of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019;
  4. The number of persons or individuals whose personal data FAAN processes on an annual basis, that is, over a period of 12 months;
  5. A report of a detailed audit of its privacy and data protection practices conducted by FAAN in accordance with the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019, which report should contain the following information:
  6. The type of personally identifiable information that FAAN collects on its employees and members of the public;
  7. the purpose for which the personally identifiable information is collected;
  8. copies of any and all notices given to individuals regarding the collection and use of their personal information;
  • details of any access or opportunities given to individuals to review, amend, correct, supplement, or delete their personal information collected or held by FAAN;
  1. information on whether or not consent is obtained from the individuals before their personally identifiable information is collected, used, transferred, or disclosed and details of any method used to obtain the consent;
  2. copies of FAAN’s policies and details of its practices for ensuring the security of personally identifiable information;
  3. copies of FAAN’s policies and details of its practices for the proper use of personally identifiable information;
  • copies of FAAN’s policies and details of its procedures for privacy and data protection;
  • copies of FAAN’s policies and details of its procedures for monitoring and reporting violations of privacy and data protection policies; and
  1. copies of FAAN’s policies and details of its procedures for assessing the impact of technologies on its stated privacy and security policies.
  • An order directing FAAN to lodge the documents and/or information requested in the Atiku’s letter dated August 17, 2020 with the Court, pursuant to Section 22 of the FOI Act.
  • A prayer that the Court examines the documents and/or information lodge by FAAN pursuant to the immediately foregoing paragraph, and if upon such examination it makes a determination that the Applicant has a right to access documents and/or information, orders that the Clerk of Court releases same to the Applicant.
  • An order directing the Attorney General of the Federation to initiate criminal proceedings against FAAN and its Managing Director for the offence of wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7(5) of the FOI Act.
  • An order directing FAAN and its Managing Director to pay to Atiku the sum of One Million Naira (N1, 000,000.00) only as exemplary and aggravated damages for the flagrant and unlawful violation of his right of access to information established and guaranteed by Section 1(1) and 4 of the FOI Act and wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7 (4) of the FOI Act.
  • And for such other order (s) as the Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance.

AtikuSarki had by a letter to FAAN dated August 17, 2020 requested for information in accordance with the right established and guaranteed by Sections 1(1), and 4 of the FOI Act but FAAN failed to make available the information requested.

In a letter dated August 25, 2020, signed by OssaiIkem Christopher, its FOI Unit Desk Officers’ Coordinator, FAAN requested for extension of time in line with Section 6 (a) and (b) of the FOI Act. However, by another letter dated September 7, 2020 also signed by Ossai, FAAN wrote to him saying it was currently engaged in the first level of the remediation project plan in full compliance with the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation(NDPR). It didn’t supply him the range of information he requested.

The matter is being prosecuted with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) in collaboration with Media Rights Agenda (MRA).