Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Federal High Court has ordered the Speaker and the Clerk of the House of Representatives to release all relevant contract documents relating to the purchase of 400 Toyota Camry 2020 Model cars for it’s members to a human rights group, Kingdom Human Rights International.
Also to comply with the order made by Justice Inyang Ekwo is the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC).
The order was sequel to a public interest suit filed by the group in line with section 21 of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2011.
The said section provides that ‘’any applicant who has been denied access to information or a part thereof may apply to the Court for a review of the matter within thirty days after the public institution denies or is deemed to have denied the application or within such further time as the court may either before or after the expiration of thirty days fix or allow’’.
The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/420/2020, seeks to compel the Speaker of the House of Representatives to make available to the group, the contract papers for the supply of the 400 2020 model Toyota vehicles for the purpose of ensuring accountability, due process and in support of the fight against corruption by the Buhari administration.
After listening to the motion exparte moved by counsel to the group, Okere Nnamdi, Justice Ekwo specifically ordered that the defendants should furnish the group with the following documents relating to the purchase of the exotic vehicles: “Certified true copy of the contract for the supply of 400 Toyota Camry 2020 model cars for the house of representatives.
“Certified true copy of the resolution was reached at an executive (closed-door) session held on February 5, 2020. “Evidence of payment and bank transaction for the supply of the 400 2020 Toyota Camry cars between the House of Representatives and the company supplying the cars indicating the actual cost for each of the 400 cars.
The applicant had further sought for an order granting it leave to commence action for judicial review of administrative inaction of the 1st defendant to perform his statutory mandate and obligation under section 5 of the Freedom of Information Act to make the following documents available to the plaintiff in line with the plaintiff’s application letter dated 24/2/2020 and reminder letter dated 11/3/2020, to wit:-
“Certified true copy of the contract for the supply of 400 Toyota Camry 2020 model cars for the house of representatives.
“Certified true copy of the resolution was reached at an executive (closed-door) session held on February 5, 2020 and evidence of payment and bank transaction for the supply of the 400 2020 Toyota Camry cars between the House of Representatives and the company supplying the cars indicating the actual cost for each of the 400 cars.
“An order granting leave to the applicant to commence action for judicial review of administrative action of the defendants to determine if the defendants have corruptly inflated actual contract sum for the supply of 400 2020 model Toyota Camry cars for the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in line with the plaintiff’s application letter dated 24/2/2020 and reminder letter dated 11/3/2020.
The court was further urged to determine if the leadership of the House of Representative is set to corruptly embezzle public funds and has proposed between 40 to 45 million for each of the proposed 400 Toyota Camry vehicles, whereas the actual costs from Toyota website are between N10,000.000 and N15,000,000, that is between ($25,000 and $35,000 thousand dollars excluding the cost of shipping, import duty which is 70 per cent of the net cost and other clearing charges and taxes at the port); and the reason some members of the House of Representatives who have rejected the cars as an unnecessarily expensive venture that will corruptly enrich the leadership of the lower Chamber are offered between N18 to N20 million cash in exchange for the cars, to lure them falsely consent and append their signature of taking delivery of cars purportedly purchased with N40 and N45 Million naira, depending range of the vehicles.
The court has fixed September 3, 2020 for the hearing of the substantive suit.