Media Group Sues NNPC For Consistently Violating FOI Act, Claims N15m Damages

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The Media Rights Agenda has filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja accusing the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation of consistently breaching its statutory duties under the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 in flagrant violation of the organisation’s right of access to information under the Act.

In the suit filed on its behalf by Abuja-based lawyer, Mrs Mojirayo Ogunlana-Nganga, MRA is asking the court to compel the NNPC to perform its statutory duties under the FOI Act within 30 days of the court’s order as well as to pay the civil society organization N15m as exemplary and aggravated damages for the “flagrant and unlawful violation” of its right of access to information established and guaranteed by the Act.

Also named as a respondent in the suit is Attorney-General of the Federation, who according to MRA, has oversight responsibility under the FOI Act by virtue of Section 29(6) to ensure that all public institutions to which the Act applies complies with its provisions.

MRA, in an ex-parte motion, is praying the court to make a declaration that the failure and/or refusal by the NNPC to proactively publish the information specified in Section 2(3)(a)-(f) of the FOI Act and widely disseminate the information as required by Section 2(4) of the Act amounts to a breach of the corporation’s statutory duty under Section 2(3) and (4) of the Act and constitutes a violation of MRA’s rights of access to information established and guaranteed by Section 1(1) and 2(4) of the Act.

The media group is also seeking an order compelling the NNPC to comply with the provisions of Section 2(1), (2), (3), (4) and (5) of the FOI Act by publishing and widely disseminating and making readily available to members of the public the information specified in Section 2(3)(a) to (f) of the Act within 30 days of the order of the court.

Other reliefs sought by MRA includes: “an order compelling the NNPC to ensure the provision of appropriate training for its officials on the public’s right of access to information and records held by it for the effective implementation of the Act within 30 days of the court’s order.

“An order compelling the NNPC to submit to the Attorney-General of the Federation its annual reports on its implementation of the FOI Act covering the fiscal years 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, as required by Section 29(1) of the Act within 30 days of the court’s order; and an order directing the NNPC and its Group Managing Director to pay MRA N15m as exemplary and aggravated damages for the flagrant and unlawful violation of the organisation’s right of access to information established and guaranteed by Sections 1(1) and 4 of the Act.”

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