Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola has said he can’t find the names of contractors who allegedly collected money for electricity projects and failed to execute them.
Fashoola stated this in reply to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request from the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
The minister’s January 29 reply was contained in a letter signed on his behalf by the ministry’s Director (Legal Services), Mrs Shoetan A. A.
She said: “The ministry has searched for the requested information on details of alleged contractors and companies that collected money for electricity projects and failed to executive any projects, but, we could not find it from our records.”
In its response to the ministry’s letter, which it said it received on February 7, SERAP said failure to furnish it with the requested information “undermine the governments expressed commitment to transparency and accountability.”
In a February 8 counter-reply, signed by the Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP said even if the Power ministry “has faithfully searched for the information requested and that the information is not held by your ministry as claimed, your ministry should still have taken steps to approach and request from other public institution or institutions that may be holding the requested information, in line with the provisions of the FOI Act.”
SERAP added that it believes Fashola’s response to its request “implicitly amounts to a refusal by your ministry to provide the information requested, as allowed under the FOI Act.
“The public expectation is that government information, when in the hands of any public institutions and agencies, should be available to the public, as prescribed by the FOI Act.
“The FOI Act should always be used as an authority for disclosing information rather than withholding it.”