FREEDOM OF INFORMATION UPDATE: N25 BILLION NATIONAL EGG PRODUCTION SCHEME: FEDERAL HIGH COURT ORDERS THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT TO DISCLOSE INFORMATION TO CENTRE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

The Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Hon Justice Abdul- Kafarati has ordered the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to grant access to Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) the details of the N25 billion National Egg Production Scheme.
Delivering judgment on Thursday, 2nd November, 2017 in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/520/2016: In the Matter of Centre for Social Justice and the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Court held that Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act entitles all Nigerians to the right of access to information in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution however described.

The Court granted an order of Mandamus compelling the Respondent to grant CSJ access to the details and copy of the N25 billion (Twenty Five Billion Naira) contract the Honourable Minster signed with Turns Farms Nigeria Limited to facilitate egg production in the country on the project called “National Egg Production Scheme (NEGPRO)”. The Court specifically ordered the Honourable Minister to make the following information available to CSJ, namely:
i. .a copy of the signed agreement
ii. the contact address of the company
iii. the newspaper where the procurement contract was advertised and
iv. the criteria for selecting Turns Farms for the project.
Odoeme N.V ESq. (MRS) who appeared for the Honourable Minister had filed a preliminary objection which was dismissed by the Court. She further argued that the Honourable Minister’s inability to meet up with seven days within which to reply to the Plaintiff’s letter dated June, 2016 as provided by the Freedom of Information Act was not deliberate but due to administrative bureaucracy. And that the letter was misdirected hence could not be traced on time. However, this argument was rejected by the court after listening to Kingsley Nnajiaka Esq counsel to the Plaintiff who submitted that the Honourable Minister has violated the Plaintiff’s right of access to information as provided by the Freedom of Information Act.

It will be recalled that the Plaintiff had by a letter dated 20th June 2016 applied to the Honourable Minister to make available to the Plaintiff the details and the copy of the N25 billion contract the Honourable Minister signed with Turns Farms Nigeria Limited to facilitate egg production in the country on the project called National Egg Production Scheme (NEGPRO). Instead of responding to the letter as anticipated by law, a media assistant to the Minister wrote and circulated an abusive press statement that did not address the gravamen of the demand.
We look forward to receiving the details of the contractual and procurement proceedings as ordered by the Court.

Kingsley Nnajiaka, Esq
Legal Officer

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FREEDOM OF INFORMATION UPDATE: N25 BILLION NATIONAL EGG PRODUCTION SCHEME: FEDERAL HIGH COURT ORDERS THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT TO DISCLOSE INFORMATION TO CENTRE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
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