For failure to name alleged looters, SERAP drags FG to court
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For failure to name alleged looters, SERAP drags FG to court

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For failure to name alleged looters, SERAP drags FG to Court

The Federal Government has been taken to court for its failure to disclose names of alleged looters. Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), the initiator of the suit, is demanding for the names of the suspected looters.

The group is also demanding in the suit filed last Friday at the Federal High Court Ikoyi, to know the circumstances under which stolen public funds were recovered.

The group had, based on right to Freedom of Information (FoI), requested that the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed provide information about the names of high ranking public officials from whom public funds were recovered and the circumstances of recovery.

The originating summons, signed by SERAP executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, with suit number FHC/CS/964/2016 was brought pursuant to section 4(a) of the FoI Act, and joined as defendants in the suit are Mohammed and the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.

The Complainant is arguing that, “By a letter with reference No MJ/FOI/GEN/014/1/54 and dated 21 June 2016, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, SAN confirmed that the FOI request by SERAP was brought to the attention of the Defendants for handling.

“However, since the receipt of the FOI request and the confirmation by Mr Malami that the request was brought to the attention of the Defendants for handling, and up till the filing of this suit, the Defendants have so far failed, refused and/or neglected to provide SERAP with the details of the information requested.”

Read also: Recovered loot: FG undecided over prosecution, as SERAP demands looters’ names

SERAP is asking the court to determine the question “Whether by virtue of the provision of section 4(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the Defendants are under an obligation to provide the Plaintiff with the information requested for.”

Part of the suit read: “By virtue of Section 1(1) of the FoI Act 2011, the Plaintiff is entitled as of right to request for or gain access to information which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution. Under the FoI, when a person makes a request for information from a public official, institution or agency, the public official, institution or agency to whom the application is under a binding legal obligation to provide the Plaintiff/Applicant with the information requested for, except as otherwise provided by the Act, within 7 days after the application is received.

“The information requested by SERAP does not come within the purview of the types of information exempted from disclosure by the provisions of the FOI Act. The information requested for, apart from not being exempted from disclosure under the FOI Act, bothers on an issue of National interest, public concern, social justice, good governance, transparency and accountability.”

By Ebere Ndukwu

 

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