FoI Act Not Binding On 36 States – Court

lawcourtA Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday ruled that the 36 states of the federation could not be made to provide any information based on the Freedom of Information Act.

Justice Okon Abang stated this in a judgment he delivered pursuant to a suit filed by The Legal Defence and Assistance Project against some states of the federation.

The judge ruled the FoI Act, being an enactment of the National Assembly, was only binding on the Federal Government and its agencies.

He also held that the Act was neither a residual law nor was it on the concurrent list of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

Abang further ruled that if it was the intention that the FoI Act should be binding on states, the Houses of Assembly of each of the 36 states of the federation should have been carried along in the process of its enactment.

He said the Houses of Assembly of the states of the federation were empowered by the Constitution to make laws for their respective states, and not the other way round.

The Attorney General and Commissioners for Finance of the states were sued by the applicant over their refusal to provide an information requested under the FoI Act.

The states are Lagos, Imo, Rivers, Abia, Akwa Ibom and Delta.

The applicant had written a letter to the states requesting information on the bond raised by the states in the capital market.

The request letter was dated December 12, 2011.

Specifically, the applicant had requested details of the amount raised and received by the respective states from the Nigerian capital market through public offers or private placement between 2007 and 2011.

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