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HEDA secures favourable judgement on FIO Act…Charges FCT Minister to obey Court order

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The Human & Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) has secured a favourable judgement against the office of the Honourable Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) at the Federal High Court, Abuja Judicial Division Holden in Abuja.

HEDA (Plaintiff) had by a Motion on Notice dated and filed on 8/2/2021, prayed the Court for An Order of Mandamus compelling the Honourable Minister of FCT (Respondent) to supply the information requested for, as contained in the its request dated 7/10/2020, attached to the affidavit in support of its application as Exhibit HEDA 2, and such further Order or Orders as the Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance.

The application which was supported by a 16 paragraph affidavit, deposed to by one Catherine Joseph, had attached to the affidavit, 2 documents marked Exhibit HEDA 1 and HEDA 2. HEDA had demanded from the Minister, list of those allocated land documents by the Minister based on public reports indicating some Public office holders were beneficiaries of the action.

In further support of the application was the written address of counsel also dated 8/2/21, and Statement made pursuant to Order 34 Rule 3 (2) (a) of the Rules of the Court.

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The Court in a ruling dated 1st March 2022, before His Lordship, Honorable Justice Mobolaji O. Olajuwon, with Suit N0. FHC/ABJ/CS/1517/2020, between: Incorporated Trustees of HEDA Resource Centre (Plaintiff) and Office of the Honourable Minister, Federal Capital Territory (Respondent) granted the prayers of the Applicant – HEDA.

“This court having found that the application of the Applicant has merit and as the Information Act 2011 under which the application was brought was enacted to make public records and information freely available to any member of the interested public, this Court grants the prayers of the Applicant.

“The Order of this court, compelling the Respondent to supply the information requested for, by the Applicant, in its letter to the Respondent, dated 7th October 2020, is hereby granted. The information is to be make available to the Applicant forthwith,” the Judge ruled.

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Reacting, the chairman of HEDA, Olanrewaju Suraju applauded the court for upholding the provisions of the law, saying, “Most corporate bodies especially the public sector would not willingly release Information requested by interested persons especially those of us from the civil society organizations, for obvious reasons – any government Ministry, Department or Agency that refuses to release Information at their disposal have questions to answer.

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“For Godsake, in FOI Act 2011 is a document that must not be toyed with. It must be obeyed by all and sundry, thus; persons and groups who need them should have unhindered access to them. It’s for the good of the common man. This is what is obtainable in other climes. The law remains supreme above everyone. And we want to asseverate that any conscientious delay by any organization to deliver requested information is a calculated attempt to frustrate the efforts of the requester, which in most cases amount to delay prosecution and justice, and such delay mechanism would be resisted head-on,” Suraju added.

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