A Nigerian Sports Journalist has dragged the Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and the Attorney General of the federation to court over failure to release an FOI Act request made.
The case with Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/1054/19 filed on September 11, 2019 has been assigned to Hon. Justice Binta Nyako and is expected to be heard at the Federal High Court in Abuja on November 28, 2019.
In the Suit filed against the Sports Ministry, Uche Amulu Esq of Elias Monai & Co. counsel to the applicant made the following prayers to the Federal High Court in Abuja:
- A Declaration that the Journalist is entitled to receive the information (How the Overpiad IAAF $135,000) applied for from the Hon. Minister having made a written application for same on August 8th of August, 2019 and the Defendant having received the application on the same day
- A Declaration that the failure and/or refusal of the Hon. Minister of Youth and Sports Development to make available the information after appealing for extension of time is wrongful, unlawful and amounts to a gross violation to the rights of access to information established and guaranteed by section 1 (1), & 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011
- A Declaration that the failure and/or refusal by the Hon. Minister to make available the information to the Journalist after expiration of the time amounts to wrongful denial of access to information under section 7(5) of the Freedom of Information Act ,2011
- A Declaration that the failure and/or refusal of the Hon. Minister to give written notice to the Journalist stating reason for the denial of the information sought and requested is wrongful and , unlawful and constitutes a gross violation of section 4 (b) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011
- An Order of the Honourable Court on the Defendants to make available to the Plaintiff the information applied for within 7 days of the judgment of the Court
- AN ORDER compelling the 2nd Defendant to initiate criminal proceedings against the 1st Defendant, or whosoever’s responsibility in his office it is to supply the information requested, for the offence of wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7(5) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011
On August 8, 2019 Mr. Joseph Odoekwu a Sports Journalist, founder of Sports Intelligence Magazine and a member of the AIPS invoked relevant sections of the FOI Act to make a request from the Ministry of Youth Sports at Abuja. Seeking to get breakdown of how the overpaid IAAF $135,000 was spent by the Solomon Dalung-led administration.
On August 14, 2019 the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development replied to the FOI Act request through the Director of Press A. B Lere, appealing for an extension of time to enable the Sports Ministry source for relevant information.
However, the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development Ministry failed to keep to her earlier appeal for extension. Even when the period of extension was over.
It will be recalled that the circumstances surrounding the immediate refusal of the then Sports Minister to refund the money caused furor among sports critics. With the former Minister Solomon Dalung later promising the IAAF that the money will be refunded.
As at Press time Counsel to Heptano Communications can confirm that the current Minister of Sports and Youth Development Mr. Sunday Dare is yet to be served with the Court order.