Law News
Bulletproof Cars: Court Dismisses FoI Suit Against Oduah

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A Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday struck out the Freedom of Information(FoI) Act suit filed by the incorporated trustees of the Media Right Agenda (MRA) seeking information on the controversial BMW bulletproof cars bought for former aviation minister, Princess Stella Oduah.

Justice Ibrahim Buba, who made the decision while ruling on an interlocutory objection filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation, held that the information requested by MRA went outside the contemplation of the FOI Act.

According to the judge, the requested information is a published material that falls under the exception stated in section 26(a) of the Freedom of Information Act and that the budgetary allocation for the referred procurement process was contained in the 2013 budget of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

MRA and the incorporated trustees of Public and Private Development had filed the action seeking to compel Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Attorney General of the Federation to disclose information on the procurement of the BMW cars.

The applicants had through their lawyer, Ayodeji Acquah urged the court to declare that the failure and or refusal of the first respondent to disclose or make available to the applicants the information requested in their letter dated October 21, 2013 amounts to violation of applicant’s right to access to information established and guaranteed by section 1(1) and section 4(a) of the Freedom and information Act 2011.

The letter had requested for the first respondent’s annual budget and the public procurement plans, procurement record for the purchase of two BMW 760 LI vehicles.

evidence of advertisements to that effect, a list of bids tendered, copies of bid evaluation meetings, pro forma invoice of those documents as well as documents showing delivery of procured vehicles among other prayers.

In their affidavit deposed to by one John Gbadamosi, the applicant’s insisted that the information requested does not come within the purview of the types of information exempted from disclosure by the provisions of the FOI Act.

“The first respondent has no reason whatsoever to deny the applicants access to the information sought for. 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”, Gbadamosi swore.

However the defence counsel, Emeka Okpoko had objected to the suit, insisting that it did not meet up with the condition precedent before instituting an action against the respondents. He also argued that the applications failed to issue the 30 days notice required by section 24(2) of the Civil Aviation Act 2006 among other objections.

Okpoko also said, “This suit as constituted is incompetent and this honourable court has no jurisdiction to entertain same to the extent that concerns the first respondent/applicant.

He therefore prayed the court to strike out the suit for lack of jurisdiction.

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