Court rules that FOI Act is applicable to Lagos and other states

OrderPaperToday – A Lagos High Court in Ikeja, has ruled that the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011 is applicable to the Government of Lagos State and does not require “domestication” by the State to have effect.

The suit arose from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request made by Media Rights Agenda (MRA) in November 2016 to the Ministry.

Due to the failure of the Ministry to respond to MRA’s request despite a reminder issued to it, the organization, through its lawyer, Mrs. Mosunmola Olanrewaju, filed a suit against the Ministry and the Attorney-General of the Federation asking the Court to pronounce that the Ministry’s refusal to provide it with the requested information is unlawful.

The suit also urged the court to compel the release of the records and information to the organization in accordance with the FOI Act. 

However, the Ministry filed a notice of preliminary objection to the suit.

Ruling on the matter, Justice Oke-Lawal noted that three issues arose for determination in the preliminary objection filed by the Ministry namely, whether the FOI Act is applicable to Lagos State, whether MRA was out of time in filing the suit and whether the Lagos state Ministry of Health is a juristic person.

The judge upheld Mrs. Olanrewaju’s argument that the FOI Act was validly enacted by the National Assembly and as such applicable to the Federation and that it is not dependent on adoption by the states.

She cited, in support of her position, the decisions of the Supreme Court dismissing related challenges made to the validity and applicability of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) Act to the States.

Justice Oke-Lawal therefore held that the FOI Act applies to the Government of the Federation as well as to State Governments.

She also dismissed other aspects of the preliminary objection raised by the Ministry for lack of merit.

The judged fixed hearing in the substantive suit for December 20, 2017.

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