Nnamdi Felix / Abuja
Nigeria’s recently passed Freedom of Information Act, FIOA, was further strengthened by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja which made an order granting leave to a legal practitioner, Mr. Ojukwu Chikaosolu, to apply for judicial review for an order of mandamus to compel the Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, Mr. Reginald Kingsley, to release information demanded by the lawyer under the Freedom of Information Act.
Mr. Chikaosolu had on the 19th of July requested information on the list of companies who had obtained import licenses and volumes of products allocated in their respective permits. He sought for the information with a view to curbing sharp and fraudulent practices in the petroleum import transaction through an informative and open process.
He also demanded to know whether the Executive Secretary had resigned his employment with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation before he was appointed as the Executive Secretary of the PPPRA by President Goodluck Jonathan last November.
In response to these inquiries, the agency in a letter dated 9th August and endorsed on behalf of the Executive Secretary by Mr. Ja’afar Abubakar, PPPRA declined to release the requested information.
The agency claimed that the information being requested does not fall within the information that is caused to be published by a public institution under the FOI Act.
“We write in line with your request for information as contained in your letter and regret to inform you that the first request is denied as the information required does not within the information that is caused to be published by a public institution under the FOI Act”
However, after listening to Mr Chikaosu as he argued his exparte motion which he filed to challenge the refusal by the agency to release the information he requested for, the presiding judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole granted the lawyer the requested leave for judicial review for an order of mandemus to compel the Executive Secretary and the agency to release the requested information.
Further hearing into the matter was adjourned to 22nd October.