A civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the court for an order compelling the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau Mr Sam Saba to release documents on President Goodluck Jonathan’s assets declaration.
The suit number FHC/IKJ/CS/159/2012 filed last Thursday at the Federal High Court Ikeja followed a Freedom of Information request by SERAP to Mr. Sam Saba dated 27th June 2012.
The motion exparte with suit was brought pursuant to section 20 of the Freedom of Information Act, and Order 34 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2009, and signed by the organization’s Staff Attorney Chinyere Nwafor.
The Plaintiff is arguing that under the FOI Act, “it has the right to request for or gain access to documents relating to President Jonathan’s assets declaration, which is in the custody or possession of the Code of Conduct Bureau, “which is a public institution as defined by the FOI Act. The Defendant has no right whatsoever to deny the Plaintiff to the documents sought.”
SERAP also said that, “the information requested for by the Plaintiff/Applicant stems from the Constitutional requirement which provides in section 153 for the establishment of a Code of Conduct Bureau to ensure, among other things, that all public officers, as defined in Part II of the Fifth Schedule, declare their assets on assuming office and immediately their terms of office expire.”
“In Paragraph 3(C) the Bureau shall have the power to “retain custody of such declarations and make them available online casino canada for inspection by any citizen of Nigeria on such terms and conditions as the National Assembly may prescribe,” the suit also stated.
SERAP further argued that, “the power or discretion to refuse to give access to information requested for and within the custody of the Defendant/Respondent cannot be exercised in vacuo. Such a power or discretion must be provided for by the FOI Act itself. This means that a denial of such information must be justifiable within the Freedom of Information Act as provided by Section 4(b).”
The suit is seeking the following reliefs:
A. A declaration that by virtue of the provisions of Section 4 (a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the Defendant/Respondent is under a binding legal obligation to make available to the Plaintiff/Applicant the information within its custody as requested for in the letter dated 27th June 2012
B. A declaration that the failure of the Defendant/Respondent to make available the information requested for within the stipulated time required by law, under section 4(a) of the Freedom of Information Act, is a violation of the Plaintiff/Applicant’s right to information guaranteed by the Freedom of Information Act 2011.
C. An Order of Mandamus directing and or compelling the Defendant/Respondent to make available to the Plaintiff/Applicant the information requested as contained in a letter dated 27th June 2012 to the Defendant/Respondent.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the application.