Nigerian Courts Upholding FOIA Application in States

27 June 2014

The federal freedom of information should apply to the states, according to public interest group, citing a growing number of court decisions supporting that position and objected to a contrary interpretation by an official in the Lagos state government.

The Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) made the argument in a letter to the Lagos State Auditor General for Local Governments, reported in an article in BusinessDay.

The letter says, “All states in Nigeria are bound to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011.” It describes precedents to support the argument, including rulings in the states of Enuga, Benue and Oyo. (See previous report.)

The most recent decision was issued May 26 by a Makurdi High Court. Justice S. O. Itodo overruled the objection raised by the Commissioner of Finance, Benue State, that the provisions of the 2011 federal law were not applicable to Benue State because the Benue State House of Assembly had yet to enact a law domesticating the FOIA.  

“The Court upheld the argument of Counsel to the Plaintiff, Okoi Obono-Obla that by virtue of Section 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the National Assembly has the constitutional jurisdiction to enact the Freedom of Information Act and therefore the provisions of the Act being an extant remains binding on all States of the Federation,” according to the letter.

The Open Society Foundations (OSF) recently partnered with the National Judicial Institute (NJI), to conduct a course for judges on the FOI Act. 

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