25 September 2014, Abuja – The South-East zonal spokesperson for the All Progressives Congress, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, on Tuesday, dragged the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, before a Federal High Court in Abuja over the minister’s refusal to grant him access to information he requested under the Freedom of Information Act.
According to a statement by the APC chief, he had written the minister requesting information concerning Nigeria’s crude oil swap variant and the certification of subsidy for the importation of kerosene and petrol by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation from January 2012 to date and has got no response.
He said, “As usual with the corporation’s secrecy in its operations, the minister ignored the letter and blatantly refused the release of the information requested. Following the minister’s neglect and refusal to comply with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, I approached the court seeking amongst other reliefs, the declaration that the minister’s refusal to release the information he requested for amounts to a violation of section 7 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act, and therefore, wrongful, illegal and unconstitutional.”
Okechukwu pointed out that as a public servant, Alison-Madueke was obligated to provide him with the information he requested since March this year.
He added that his application requesting for the information was duly served on the minister on the March 20 through DHL courier service and that in breach of Section 4 of the Act, the minister completely ignored his requested for the information.
He noted that Section 4 of the FOI Act provides that if the public institution considers that the application should be denied, the institution shall give a written notice to the applicant that access to all or part of the information will not be granted, stating reasons for the denial and the section of the FOI Act under which the denial is made.
Okechukwu therefore asked the court to make an order directing the minister to pay the sum of N5, 000 as penalty for the wrongful denial of his right of access to the information he sought as well as N1m notice in general damages.
At the proceedings, Okechukwu’s lawyer, Mrs. Justina Obono-Obla, told the court that her client sought a judicial review by way of mandamus to compel the minister to comply with his request and release the information he requested for.
The trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole fixed ruling on the application for Thursday (today).
– The Punch