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Court Grants Groups Permission To Seek Fuel Subsidy Payment Documents For 2011

Source: thewillnigeria.com
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SAN FRANCISCO, March 28, (THEWILL) - The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and Women Advocates Research and Documentation Center (WARDC) have received court approval to compel the federal government to disclose information and documents on the spending on fuel subsidy for 2011.

The order by a Federal High Court sitting in Ikeja has now cleared the way for the two organizations to advance its case against the government.

This information was disclosed in a statement released on Wednesday by the organization’s executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni.

The order granted by Justice Steven Adah on Thursday 22 March 2012, followed the hearing of argument from SERAP’s Staff Attorney Ms Oyindamola Musa on the application for leave for an order of mandamus against the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Sanusi Lamido, and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke.

Justice Adah also granted SERAP the leave to serve processes on the two respondents, and adjourned the case to 4 April 2012 for hearing of argument on why the respondents should not be compelled to disclose details and documents relating to the spending on fuel subsidy for 2011.

The respondents are expected to have filed and served their replies and served same on the applicant before the date.

The suit number FHC/IK/CS/23//2012 filed at the Federal High Court Ikeja followed a Freedom of Information request by SERAP to Mr. Sanusi dated 15 January 2012.

The motion exparte with suit number was brought pursuant to section 20 of the Freedom of Information Act, and Order 34 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2009, and signed by the organization’s Staff Attorney Chinyere Nwafor.

The plaintiff is arguing that under the FOI Act, it has the right to request for or gain access to information which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution.

The information being sought relates to the spending on fuel ‘subsidy’ in 2011 and in particular the authorization of the sum of N1.26 trillion paid by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The groups said that, “Since the 1st Defendant has failed to provide the information requested by the Plaintiffs, within the time limit stipulated by the FOI Act, it is therefore submitted that he has, by that very fact, refused to give the Plaintiffs access to the information requested for. Furthermore, the power or discretion to refuse to give access to information requested for cannot be exercised in vacuo. Such a power or discretion must be provided for by the FOI Act itself.”

The organization is also seeking the following reliefs:

A. A DECLARATION that the issuance and release of the sum of N1.26 trillion above the initial sum of N250 billion allocated for fuel subsidy for 2011 without authorization by an Act of the National Assembly to wit; a Supplementary Appropriation Act, is a breach of section 80(2), (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and as such is unlawful and unconstitutional.

B. A DECLARATION that by virtue of the provisions of Section 4 (a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the 1st Defendant/Respondent is under a binding legal obligation to provide the Plaintiffs/Applicants with up to date information on government/public spending relating to fuel ‘subsidy’ in 2011, including:

(a) The basis on which the issuance and release of the sum of N1.26 trillion on fuel ‘subsidy’ was made.

(b) Detailed information and justifications for the issuance and release of money for fuel ‘subsidy’ which rose from N250 billion for 2011 to over N1.3 trillion by the end of October 2011, N1.5 trillion by December 2011 and subsequently N1.26 trillion without supplementary appropriation authorising the expenditure.

C. AN ORDER OF MANDAMUS directing and or compelling the 1st Defendant/Respondent to provide the Plaintiffs/Applicants with up to date information on government/public spending relating to fuel ‘subsidy’ in 2011, including:

(a) The basis and expectations on which the issuance of the sum of N1.26 trillion on fuel ‘subsidy’ was made.

(b) Detailed information and justifications for the issuance and release of money for fuel ‘subsidy’ which rose from N250 billion for 2011 to over N1.3 trillion by the end of October 2011, N1.5 trillion by December 2011 and subsequently N1.26 trillion without supplementary appropriation authorising the expenditure.