- The NNPC says it cannot honour freedom of information (FOI) requests because it is not a public corporation
- This was in response to Femi Falana's request for some information about the oil industry
- The corporation's lawyer, Omale, said the law that established NNPC, precludes it from disclosing information under the FoI Act
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said it has no obligation to respond to the Freedom of Information (FoI) request made by Femi Falana(SAN), on fuel importation and sundry matters, Vanguard reports.
Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria, had written an FOI concerning fuel importation data. The human rights lawyer in his letter to Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state for petroleum resources, raised some concerns about the oil industry and asked him to respond within seven days, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.
He said the minister of state for petroleum resources, had directed the NNPC and DPR to supply him the information.
NAIJ.com gathered that NNPC's lawyer, O. B. Omale, in a letter addressed to Falana, stated that the law that established NNPC, precludes it from one of the government’s body under obligations to disclose information under the FoI Act.
Omale said: “Please be informed that our client does not fall within the purview of the Freedom of Information, FoI, Act, 2011. The provision of the Act, particularly Section 31 thereof is clear and unambiguous as to the meaning of Public Institution.
“Our client is neither a legislative, executive, judicial, administrative or advisory body of Government of Nigeria. It is a body established by law to manage the commercial interests of Nigeria in the oil and gas sector of the economy and conduct trade therein.
“It cannot, therefore, by any stretch of imagination be brought within the definition of Public Institution under the Act.
“This position has received judicial endorsement via the Federal High Court’s decisions in several cases, including two cases instituted by Messrs. Public & Private Developments Centre Ltd.”
The lawyer further said documents and information requested by Falana “are expressly excluded from the purview of the Act by virtue of the provisions of Section 15( 1)( a)-( c) thereof, as they relate to trade secrets, commercial and financial information, which obviously are either subject to non-disclosure agreements or whose disclosure will likely interfere with contractual rights and obligations of third parties or harm their interests.”
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In a previous report by NAIJ.com, the Court of Appeal ruled that Nigerian states have no power 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.
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