Lagos, Tuesday, October 28, 2014: Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC)
said today that they have instructed their lawyers to appeal yesterday’s ruling by Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos striking out their suit against the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) over its refusal to provide them with the procurement documents for the purchase of two bullet proof BMW cars for former Aviation Minister, Mrs. Stella Oduah.
In a statement in Lagos, the two organizations said the judge’s decision, striking out their suit on the ground that they did not apply for or obtain an extension of time before lodging the suit defies commonsense and logic having regards to the facts and evidence before the court.
MRA’s Executive Director, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, said it is difficult to understand the judge’s reasoning and how he came to such a decision when it was clear from the evidence before him that the organizations filed their suit within the time allowed by Section 20 of the Freedom of Information Act and therefore did not require any extension of time.
According to Mr. Ojo, “from the evidence before the court, which was not in dispute, it was clear that the NCAA refused our request for the procurement documents for the purchase of the BMW cars by its letter dated November 11, 2013 which was delivered to us and stamped ‘received’ on November 20, 2013. We filed the suit seeking a review of the NCAA’s refusal on December 6, 2013, well within the 30 days stipulated in the FOI Act.”
Section 20 of the Act provides that: “Any applicant who has been denied access to information, or a part thereof may apply to the Court for a review of the matter within 30 days after the public institution denies or is deemed to have denied the application, or within such further time as the Court may either before or after the expiration of the 30 days fix or allow.”
Describing the court’s decision as a complete mystery, Mr. Ojo said: “We are utterly confounded by ruling of the honourable judge that we did not first apply for an extension of time within which to file our suit when no such extension was required. No one seems able to understand it”
The organizations said they expected their notice of appeal to be filed in the next few days and hoped that the mystery would be resolved speedily by the Court of Appeal so that Nigerians can get to the root of the matter.
For further information, please contact:
Miss Chioma Phibe Nwadioke
Legal Officer, Media Rights Agenda