Port Harcourt — The Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, has struck out the case filed by Ogoni Youth Federation, OYF, against the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP, Federal Ministry of Environment and others, over Ogoni clean-up funds, for lack of merit.
Recall that leader of OYF, Legborsi Yamabaana, had approached the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt claiming that HYPREP, the Federal Ministry of Environment and Dr. Marvin Dekil had denied him certain information under the Freedom of Information Act.
He had prayed the court to mandate HYPREP to furnish the group with the details of their expenditure of $10million initially released to the agency, by NNPC/JV for the implementation of the UNEP report on Ogoniland.
Amongst other things, the group had demanded for a list of all HYPREP Staff showing their state and LGA of origin, level and position in office
“The details of the money spent on the first and second phase free medical outreach that was carried out by HYPREP.
“A list of all the over 20,000 patients that benefited from the medical outreach containing their full names and ailment.”
In response, Counsel to HYPREP, Chief Barinua Wifa, SAN, had argued that the suit was grossly incompetent and not worth the paper it was written on, with the following reasons;
“The suit was not properly constituted and due processes not followed. Many elementary rules were not followed in the suit.
“That Legborsi and Co were no longer members of OYF as some other more responsible youths joined the case to say they were the real members of OYF, therefore Legborsi had no jurisdiction.”
However, HYPREP had proceeded to explain that under the FOI Act, a list of staff with their names, LGA, State of origin and amount they were earning cannot be made public, because it might expose them to harm like kidnapping and death, and therefore it was an exemption in the FOI Act.
HYPREP gave financial details of the money spent on their medical interventions but refused to give any information on the names of the patients and their ailment as was demanded, explaining that they were exemptions under the FOI Act as not even a medical doctor can give such information.
Delivering the judgement, the presiding Judge, Justice E.A Obile, ruled that HYPREP cannot be sued because it was not established by an Act of the National Assembly.
The Judge equally noted that the Plaintiffs file the suit wrongly, as they did not follow the right judicial process.
He also pointed out that the proper person to have been sued was the Federal Government, instead of HYPREP, as he struck out the case.