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FoI Act: Court grants order of mandamus against health minister

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has granted an Order of Mandamus directing the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire to furnish the Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) with some vital information in the health sector.

The court further awarded the sum of N200, 000 only as compensation to CTA for the interference and breach by the Minister of its right to access the information under the Act.

In a judgment delivered by Justice N. E. Maha, the court held that the Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) is entitled to the information it sought from the Minster Health under the Freedom of Information Act, 2011. The judge ruled that the failure of the Honourable Minister of Health to grant access to the information sought amounts to an unlawful refusal and thus a breach of his statutory duty under the Act.

The CTA had in January 2020, requested for information from the Minister of Health which it failed to give. However, similar requests by CTA to the Head of Service of the Federation, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria were all referred to the Minister who by the provisions of the Act was to respond since the information sought was directly in his custody.

It was in view of all these references and refusal of the minister that CTA approached the Federal High Court for judicial review of the actions of the Minister.

Since the judgment and service of same on the minister, he has still refused to obey any part of the judgment, three months after.

Director Legal and Documentation of the Centre, Tochukwu Ohazuruike, in a chat with journalists, said: “It was a shame that the Honourable Minister of Health has decided to be a law unto himself. He disregarded the clear provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, disobeyed the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who had asked him to respond, ignored the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the Head of Service of the Federation and finally has treated a valid judgment of the Court with utter contempt and disdain.”

He charged the Attorney General of the Federation to call the minister to order as the Act donated to his office the powers to enforce the provisions of the Act and where he is so called to order and he continues on this dishonourable path, to summarily report him to the President for appropriate sanctions.

 

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