25 September 2014, Abuja – A Federal High Court in Abuja has granted leave for the commencement of a suit seeking to compel the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, to make public information regarding certain oil deals including multi-million dollars crude oil sale.
Other aspects of the transactions on which information is being sought are alleged “crude oil swap variant and certification of subsidy for the importation of kerosene and Premium Motor Spirit (petrol)”.
The applicant, Osita Okechukwu, who is a member of the All Progressives Congress, is by his suit seeking information on the transactions engaged by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation since 2012.
Justice Garbriel Kolawole, in a ruling on Thursday, held that he was convinced that the ex parte application for leave was made in accordance with the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act.
The judge directed Okechukwu to file and serve on the minister, the required motion on notice. He fixed October 9 for hearing.
Justice Kolawole noted that the philosophy behind the enactment of the FoI Act and related laws by the Federal Government was to curb corruption and related practices among public offers and in public institutions.
Through his lawyer, Mrs. Justina Obono-Obla, Ikechukwu had stated that his recourse to the court was informed by the minister’s refusal to provide him with information.
He is seeking information “concerning the disclosure of transactions involving the sale of crude oil, the crude oil swap variant and certification of subsidy for the importation of kerosene and PMS (petrol) from January 2012 to date of the NNPC”.
The applicant, in his motion on notice, which is his substantive application, wants the court to grant a mandatory order of injunction directing the minister to, within seven days, provide him with the information he sought in both applications.
He also wants the court to declare the minister’s refusal to provide him with the information as wrongful and in violation of sections 4(a) and 7(1) of the FoI Act.
He maintained and a declaration that by the true interpretation of Section 4(a) of the FoI Act, the minister was, within the meaning of Sections2(7) and 31 of the FoI Act, obligated to provide the information sought by the application in his applications.
– The Punch