MRA, Publisher File Suit Against Medical College for Breach of FOI Act, Claim N1 Million as Damages 

0
20
Nelson Olanipekun, Memeber of MRA's FOI Legal Response Network
Nelson Olanipekun, Member of MRA’s FOI Legal Response Network

Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and the publisher of the online portal, The Newsturf, Mr. Segun Fatuase, have filed a suit against the National Medical College (NMCN) at the Federal High Court in Lagos charging it with breaching the Freedom of Information Act, 2011, thereby violating their rights to information under the Act.

In the case instituted by Nelson Olanipekun, their Counsel, MRA and Segun are asking the court to compel the NMCN to perform its statutory duties under the FOI Act within 30 days of the court’s order as well as to pay them the sum of N1million as exemplary and aggravated damages for the “gross and unlawful violation” of their rights of access to information established and guaranteed by the Act.

In the motion exparte filed pursuant to Order 34, Rules 1, 3(1) and (2) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019 and Sections 1(3), 2(6), and 20 of the FOI Act, MRA and Segun are seeking leave of the court to apply for:

  • A declaration that the failure and/or refusal by the NMCN to proactively publish the information specified in Section 2(3)(a)-(f) of the FOI Act and widely disseminate the information as required by Section 2(4) of the Act amount to a breach of the corporation’s statutory duty under Section 2(3) and (4) of the Act and constitutes a violation of their rights of access to information established and guaranteed by Section 1(1) and 2(4) of the Act;
  • A declaration that the failure and/or refusal by the NMCN to proactively publish the title and address of its appropriate officer to whom applications for information should be sent as required by Section 2(3)(f) of the FOI Act amounts to a breach of its statutory duty under the Act and constitutes a violation of their rights of access to information established and guaranteed by Section 1(1) and 2(4) of the Act;
  • A declaration that the failure and/or refusal by the NMCN to ensure the provision of appropriate training for its officials on the public’s right of access to information and records held by it for the effective implementation of the FOI Act amounts to a breach of its statutory duty under Section 13 of the Act and constitutes a violation of their rights of access to information established and guaranteed by the Act;
  • A declaration that the failure of the NMCN to widely disseminate and make readily available to members of the public the information specified in Section 2(3)(a) to (f) amounts to a breach of its statutory duty and flagrant violation of the provisions of Sections 2(1), (2), (3), (4) and (5) of the Act;
  • A declaration that the NMCN’s failure to submit to the Attorney-General of the Federation its annual reports on its implementation of the FOI Act, covering the fiscal years 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 and to make the reports available to the public amount to a breach of its statutory duty and a gross violation of Section 29(1) and (2) of the Act;
  • An order compelling the NMCN to comply with the provisions of Section 2(1), (2), (3), (4) and (5) of the FOI Act by publishing and widely disseminating and making readily available to members of the public the information specified in Section 2(3)(a) to (f) of the Act within 30 days of the order of the court;
  • An order compelling the NMCN to ensure the provision of appropriate training for its officials on the public’s right of access to information and records held by it for the effective implementation of the Act within 30 days of the court’s order;
  • An order compelling the NMCN to submit to the Attorney-General of the Federation its annual reports on its implementation of the FOI Act covering the fiscal years 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, as required by Section 29(1) of the Act within 30 days of the court’s order; and
  • An order directing the NMCN and it’s Director-General to pay MRA and Segun the sum of N1million as exemplary and aggravated damages for the flagrant and unlawful violation of their right of access to information established and guaranteed by Sections 1(1) and 4 of the Act.

Prior to the motion exparte, MRA and Segun had sent a letter of demand to the ASCON for it to perform its statutory duties under the FOI Act but it failed to act to comply with the demand.

The lawsuit is supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) in collaboration with Media Rights Agenda (MRA).