FOI Act is applicable to Lagos state government, says court
A Lagos High Court, 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.
Justice Beatrice Oke-Lawal gave the ruling in a suit that arose from a Freedom of Information request made by Media Rights Agenda (MRA) in November 2016 to Lagos State Government over its failure to disclose records and information requested by the organization under the FOI Act.
Part of the information requested included details and copies of plans put in place by the Ministry of health to provide the Araromi Zion Estate located in Akiode Area of Ojodu Local Council Development Area (LCDA) with health care services with consideration to the peculiar needs and circumstances of the community.
However, following the failure of the Ministry to respond to MRA’s request, the organization, through its Counsel, Mrs. Mosunmola Olanrewaju, filed a suit against the Ministry and the Attorney-General of the Federation asking the Court to declare that the Ministry’s refusal to provide it with the requested information is wrongful and to compel the disclosure of the records and information to the organization in accordance with the FOI Act.
But in a preliminary objection, the Ministry, states that the substance of MRA’s case is not contained in the Exclusive Legislative List under the Second Schedule to the 1999 Constitution to confer exclusive power on the Federal Government to make the FOI Act for the Federation.
It also claimed that MRA’s grievance is against the Lagos State Government, which is not an agency of the Federal Government.
Ruling on the Ministry’s preliminary objection on November 28, 2017, Justice Oke-Lawal ruled 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 States adopting it for it to become applicable in such States.
Justice Oke-Lawal therefore, held that the FOI Act applies to the Government of the Federation as well as to State Governments and adjourned hearing in the substantive suit to December 20, 2017.
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