The Court of Appeal has ruled that Nigerian states have no powers to reject requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FoI).
Premium Times reports that the decision was made by the Akure division of the the Court of Appeal on March 27, which stated that the requests for information, especially around public expenditure, under the FoI, are made in public interest and should be honoured by all states.
The court ruling followed an appeal by Martins Alo, a journalist, against the speaker of Ondo state House of Assembly and auditor-general of Ondo state.
The journalist had requested for the audited report of Ondo state government between 2012 and 2014 to properly access how public funds are utilised in the state.
However, the request was rejected, prompting him to take the matter to court.
The Akure division of Ondo State High Court when delivering its judgement ruled in 2016 that Alo had no right to demand how the state was spending money.
The court stated that the FoI was not applicable to states and the request was not in public interest to begin with.
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But Alo’s lawyer, Femi Emodamori, appealed the ruling on behalf of his client on the grounds that the lower court erred in judgment as his client was acting in public interest.
In overturning the lower court’s decision, a three-member panel at the Court of Appeal agreed with the appellant that the FoI was applicable to states and it was in public interest for the state government to release its audited report.
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