NDDC Sued for Wrongful Denial of Information over Scholarship Grants

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Kingdom Chukwuezie Esq, Member of MRA’s FOI Legal Response Network
Kingdom Chukwuezie Esq, Member of MRA’s FOI Legal Response Network

Mr Mark Lenu, a journalist, with Wish 99.5 FM, Port Harcourt, has taken the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and its Managing Director to the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt asking the Court compel them to disclose to him detailed information about the scholarship grants given to indigent students from the region.

Mark, in suit No. FHC/PH/CS/106/2019 is challenging the NDDC and its Managing Director over their refusal to provide detailed information about scholarship grants to indigent students within the stipulated seven days period.

The journalist had earlier sent a letter of request, pursuant to Section 1(1) of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011 which was received by the NDDC on April 11, 2019.

He is, however, challenging the refusal of the NDDC and its Managing Director because they failed to provide him with the requested information within the stipulated 7- day period after receiving the request, a development which he said is a violation of his right guaranteed under Section 4(a) of the FOI Act, 2011.

Mark is also seeking the order of the court to compel them to make the information available to him through his email marklenu@gmail.com while also asking the court to compel the Attorney General of the Federation to initiate criminal proceedings against the NDDC and its Managing Director for wrongful denial of access to information pursuant to Section 7 (5) of the FOI Act 2011.

He also sought the court order for the sum of One million naira as exemplary and aggravated damages for the unlawful violation of his right of access to information guaranteed under Section 1(1) and (4) of the FOI Act.

In a counter-affidavit however, the NDDC and its Managing Director claimed that the information sought by Lenu relating to scholarship grants to indigent students for 2017 and 2018 were already available on the NDDC website.

The suit is being litigated under a sponsored project by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).