By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja
The Federal High Court, Abuja Division, has ordered the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Muhammad Musa Bello, to immediately release a list of those allocated land documents in Nigeria’s capital city.
While asking the Minister to immediately provide the information, Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon said the order accorded with the Freedom of Information Act (2011) enacted to make government records and information freely available to any member of the interested public.
The court gave the order following an application filed by the Incorporated Trustees of HEDA Resource Centre in suit no. FHC/ABJ/CS/1517/2020, brought before the Court against the Office of the Honourable Minister, Federal Capital Territory.
HEDA had in a request made on October 7, 2020, demanded from the Minister, the list of those allocated land documents by the Minister based on public reports indicating that some Public office holders were beneficiaries of the action.
Reacting to the judgment, the chairman of HEDA, Olanrewaju Suraju said every mechanism would be put in place to ensure that the judgment was obeyed.
He said, “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.
“For God sake, 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.