Justice Kolawole Omotosho of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has adjourned a Freedom of Information (FOI) suit lodged by a Port Harcourt-based journalist to October 7, 2019, following the absence of the respondent, the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, and its lawyers, who sent in a written request for an adjournment.
Mark Lenu filed the FOI suit against the University Teaching Hospital for failure to release information relating to the allocations it received from the Federal Government for salaries and allowances of its staff for 2017 and 2018.
At the hearing, counsel to the University Teaching Hospital sent in a letter asking for adjournment on the excuse that the head of his chambers, Chief Akuro George, died and a public lecture was fixed for the same day in his honour. This development stalled the hearing of the matter. Counsel to Mark Lenu, Mr. Kingdom Chukwuezie did not object to the adjournment.
The Attorney General of the Federation, who is a party to the suit, filed a reply on point of law to Mark Lenu’s counter affidavit and a written address to its notice of preliminary objection. The reply, on point of law, raised an issue as to whether the refusal or failure to make information available to an applicant amounted to a crime.
Mr. Chukwuezie could not address the issue through a court process since he no longer had a right to further reply by virtue of the rules of court.
Justice Omotosho had on June 19, 2019, adjourned the hearing of the suit following a request by Chukwuezie to respond to a counter affidavit and a written address served on him by the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital.
The suit is being litigated under Media Rights Agenda’s Project funded by Open Society Initiatives for West Africa (OSIWA).