The struggle for transparency and openness received a boost today, the 1st day of March 2012 as Honourable Justice B.F.M Nyako of the Lagos Judicial Division of the Federal High Court granted the claim of Olasupo Ojo Esq in his action for himself and on behalf of the Committee for the Defence Human Rights (CDHR) under the Freedom of Information Act, 2011. The law firm of Bamidele Aturu and Co had approached the court on behalf of the Plaintiff for an order of mandamus directing the EFCC to disclose to or make available to him the information he requested in his solicitor’s letter to the Commission dated the 7th day of June 2011.
It will be recalled that the EFCC had accused Mr Ojo who was then the President of the CDHR of compromising himself and the organization by collecting the sum of N52 Million from some of the suspects being investigated by the Commission in order to weaken it. On the instruction of our client we wrote pursuant the Freedom of Information Act to the Commission on the 7th of June 2011 demanding the following:
a. Name of the suspect or suspects that gave N52 Million to the leadership of the CDHR
b. Persons in the leadership of the CDHR to whom the money was given
c. The manner in which the money was paid, that is, when, where and how.
The Commission, under the controversial former leadership, failed to deliver the information sought by our client in breach of the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. The order of the court today is a mandatory one which must be obeyed by the Commission. Effectively, the court has directed the Commission to supply the information requested by us on behalf of our client.
We expect the new leadership of the Commission to comply with the Court order forthwith. But if it does not, we will do everything humanly and legally possible to ensure that somebody gets decisively punished for disobeying the order. Our firm reiterates that in order to build democracy, statutory bodies must refrain from maligning credible individuals to score cheap and infamous points. We are committed to this goal implacably.
In the meantime we are grateful to God that we succeeded in obtaining the first order under the Freedom of Information Act. We also commend the justice for her courage. Nigerians must make use of the Act to expose corruption and corrupt or reckless public officials. May God bless Nigeria.
Bamidele Aturu Esq