Judge explains ruling in MRA’s FOI request

Justice Iyabo

Justice Iyabo Akinkugbe of the Federal High Court has said that the Media Rights Agenda (MRA) put the cart before horse in its bid to make the Lagos State Primary Health Care Board provide some vital information it requested.

Ruling, the judge held that the application was “premature” since the organisation never issued a written notice stating that it would not grant access to the record or information applied for.

Admitting that the rights group has the authority to institute a legal action in the face of refusal under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, she, however, noted that the lapse of the legally approved seven days notwithstanding, the group acted in a manner similar to putting the “cart before the horse.”

The judge had in her ruling on 13th of this month denied the leave and also expressly refused the substantive application for an order of mandamus to compel the board to oblige the request.

She had ruled: “There has to be a written notice stating grounds for refusal as this is a precondition that must be complied with.”

But the group, in a statement yesterday by its Programme Manager, FoI, Ridwan Sulaimon, decried the judgment, blacklisting the jurist in the process.

MRA’s Executive Director, Edetaen Ojo, said the ruling “whether motivated by a desire to protect a government agency or by genuine ignorance of the applicable legal principles, has such profound implications that it would render the right of access to court by persons wrongly denied information completely meaningless.”

The group had on November 4, 2016 written the agency to furnish it with details and copies of plans put in place to provide Araromi Zion Estate located in the Akiode Area of Ojodu Local Council Development Area (LCDA) in Ikeja with healthcare services.

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