A Lagos High Court sitting in the Ikeja Judicial Division has ruled that the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, 2011, is applicable to the Lagos State Government.
A statement issued by the Programme Manager (Legal), Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Mrs Mosunmola Olanrewaju, yesterday, said the court also ruled that the FoI Act does not require “domestication” by the state to have effect.
Justice Beatrice Oke-Lawal held that the National Assembly has validly enacted the act, and that it is applicable to the federal and state governments.
She gave the ruling after dismissing a preliminary objection raised by the Lagos State Ministry of Health in a suit instituted against the ministry and the state government by MRA, over its failure to disclose records and information requested by the organisation under the act.
The suit arose from a FoI request made by the agency in November 2016 to the ministry, asking for “details and copies of plans put in place by the institution to provide the Araromi Zion Estate located in Akiode Area of Ojodu Local Council Development Area (LCDA) with healthcare services.”
MRA had also requested for the details and copies of plans put in place to provide the estate with healthcare services, taking into consideration the peculiar needs and circumstances of the community.
Other requests made were details of any assessment carried out on the needs of the community and its residents, as well as copies of relevant assessments reports; an outline of the timeframe for the implementation of the plans if there were any; and details of the budgets and costs estimates for the implementation of the plans.
Following the failure of the ministry to respond to the agency’s request, the MRA, through its lawyer, Mrs Olanrewaju, filed a suit against the ministry and the Attorney General of the Federation.
In the suit, the agency asked the court to declare that the ministry’s refusal to provide it with the requested information was wrong and also to compel the disclosure of the records and information to the organisation in accordance with the FoI Act.
The ministry, however, filed a notice of preliminary objection to the suit in which it contended that the court had no jurisdiction to determine the suit and asked that the suit be struck out on the grounds that it was not a juristic person that can sue or be sued.