YOU ARE NOT ABOVE FOI ACT; COURT TELLS EFCC…COURT RULING INCLUDED

FEJIRO OLIVER
The Economic and Financial Crime Commision (EFCC)
maradonnic act to refuse a Nigerian the information he asked for will be a hard
blow for the anti graft body as a Federal High Court in Abuja who sat on
wednesday noted that the applicant, Hon Engr. Ikenna Ejezie was right in
demanding information from the EFCC.
Justice G. O Kolawole who presided over the case
humbly apologized to the applicant, Hon. Ikenna and his attorney, Osuagwu U.
for the unavoidable delay which the preparation and delivery of the ruling
took.
Ikenna had written to the EFCC using the Freedom of
Information act requesting:

1. Total number of criminal cases filed
by the
Commission from 2003-2012
2 Total number of criminal conviction
secured
by the Commission from 2003-2012
3. How much has been paid as Professional
fees to external Solicitors by the Commission
between 2003-2012?
4. Sum of N10, 607,150,473.00 was total
allocation approved by the National Assembly for
the Commission under the 2012
Appropriation. How much was finally
released to the
Commission for 2012 by the Budget office?
5. The sum of N3, 000,000,000:00 was
allocated the Commission for the construction of
a new EFCC Headquarters complex. How much was finally released? Who are the Contractors for this project? Was the contract for construction of this project advertised and when? How many companies bided and/or pre-qualified for this construction contract? How much has been paid these contractors till date?
6. The sum of N357M was budgeted for the
Agency for Local travels and transportation. Another N100M for international travels. N73M for local training and another N130M for international training. Can you provide payment vouchers on how the N230M was utilized in 2012 for the international travels and international training? Provide also list of officers who attended
the international trainings and travels and the
venue of these travels and trainings?
7. The sum of N121, 307,569 was allocated
the Commission in 2012 for publicity and advertisement. Can you provide payment vouchers for these expenses and give particulars
of what these publicity and advertisement
are
meant for?
8. The sum of N54, 255, 173 was allocated
the
Commission in 2012 for sporting activities. Can
you give details of how this sum was
utilized? Does the Agency have a
football club or any sport club it caters for?
9. The sum of N98, 111,356 was budgeted
by
the Commission in 2012 for office rent. Can you
provide copies of the rent or lease
agreement between the Agency and its
Landlord(s)?
10. The sum of N97, 200,000 was allocated
the
Commission in 2012 for security votes. Can you
give details of how this sum was utilized under
this heading with payment vouchers?
11. 
Provide total amount received as grants and
aids from international Agencies, Diplomatic
missions and other donors since 2004?
The EFCC had refused to furnish him with the
information, thus making him to go to court. The anti corruption body had
argued that the case was a frivolous one and they are not willing to give out
any of such information to the public.
The judge noted that in the provision of order 34
rule 3(4) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2009, the only way
which a court can grant such application is after ascertaining “that the
applicant has a sufficient interest in the matter to which the application
relates “ or that the application is frivolous. The Judge however quashed the
provision citing the section 1 (2) of the FOIA that “An applicant under this
act need not demonstrate any specific interest in the information being applied
for”. He stated that the act establishing the FOI supersedes the Civil
Procedure. He told the EFCC that Ikenna was right in asking from them such information
as the act was “a conscious legislative instrument to ensure probity and good
governance in the management of finance and other resources of the state”.
He told the court that the applicant demands were not
frivolous and that “the Motion Ex-parte is meritorious and ought to succeed”.
He noted that there was no justifiable reason before the court on why the EFCC
should deny Ikenna his demand from them. He however told the applicant to seek
for order of mandamus (a mandate which orders public agency or government body
to perform an act required by law when it has neglected or refused to do so) and
serve on the defendant (EFCC).

The case was adjourned to 23rd of October
2013.
Court ruling paper

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