Journalist Sues FRSC, Othersover Failure to Respond to Request for Information Pursuant to the FOI Act, Claims N1 Million Damages

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Atiku Sarraki, Bureau Chief of Triumph Newspaper based in Abuja, has filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja against the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and the  Corps Marshal (FRSC), accusing them of obvious disregard for the request for information under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011 thereby denying the applicants right of access to information established and guaranteed by Sections 1(1), & 4 of the FOI Act. He joined the Attorney General of the Federation as a party to the suit.

In the suit filed by his Counsel, UcheAmulu, the applicant seeks an order for FRSC to make available the requested information he is entitled to under the FOI Act, has made a written application on August 17, 2020 as well as to pay the sum of N1million as exemplary and aggravated damages for the “flagrant and unlawful violation” of his right of access to information established and guaranteed by the Act.

He is also demanding from the court an order directing the Attorney General of the Federation to initiate criminal proceedings against the FRSC for wrongful denial of access to information under the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

In the motion exparte filed pursuant to Order 34, Rules 1, 3(1) and (2) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019; Regulation 4.1 (8) of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019; Sections 1, 4, 20 & 22 of the FOI Act; and the Inherent Jurisdiction of the Honourable Court, the applicant sought the leave of the court to apply for:

  • A DECLARATION that the failure and/or refusal by the 1st Respondent to grant the Applicant’s access to the information requested in his 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 access to the information requested in the Applicant’s letter dated August 17, 2020 constitutes 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:
  • Copies of all the 1st Respondent’s data protection policies, issued in conformity with the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019;
  • The name and contact details of the 1st Respondent’s Data Protection Officer designated in accordance with the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019, together with the relevant data privacy instruments and data protection directives;
  • Details of all capacity building training and other capacity-building activities undertaken for the 1st Respondent’s Data Protection Officer and other personnel involved in any form of data processing since the issuance of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019;
  • The number of persons or individuals whose personal data the 1st Respondent processes on an annual basis, that is, over a period of 12 months;
  • A report of a detailed audit of its privacy and data protection practices conducted by the 1st Respondent in accordance with the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019, which report should contain the following information:
  • The type of personally identifiable information that the 1st Respondent collects on its employees and members of the public;
  • the purpose for which the personally identifiable information is collected;
  • 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 the 1st Respondent;
  • 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;
  • copies of the 1st Respondent’s policies and details of its practices for ensuring the security of personally identifiable information;
  • copies of the1st Respondent’s policies and details of its practices for the proper use of personally identifiable information;
  • copies of the 1st Respondent’s policies and details of its procedures for privacy and data protection;
  • copies of the 1st Respondent’s policies and details of its procedures for monitoring and reporting violations of privacy and data protection policies; and
  • copies of the 1st Respondent’s policies and details of its procedures for assessing the impact of technologies on its stated privacy and security policies.
  • AN ORDER directing the 1st Respondent to lodge the documents and/or information requested in the Applicant’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 lodged by the 1st Respondent 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 3rd Respondent to initiate criminal proceedings against the 1st and 2nd Respondents for the offence of wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7(5) of the FOI Act.
  • AN ORDER directing the 1st and 2nd Respondents to pay to the Applicant the sum of One Million Naira (N1, 000.000.00) only as exemplary and aggravated damages for the flagrant and unlawful violation of the Applicant’s right of access to information established and guaranteed by Section 1(1) & 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 Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance.

This suit was made possible with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) in collaboration with Media Rights Agenda (MRA)