Attempt by a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) to compel the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to disclose the amount spent on President Muhammadu Buhari’ s medical treatment in London collapsed on Tuesday, as a Federal High Court Abuja struck out the suit.
In his verdict on the matter, Justice John Tsoho held that the application by the Incorporated Trustees of Advocacy for Societal Rights Advancement and Development Initiative (ASRADI) for review against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) was misconceived and misguided because the applicant has not prove injuries suffered.
Justice Tsoho further held that the CBN has met the requirement of what the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act provided for , when an organisation or government department received a request for an information not within its reach, by sending the request to the appropriate department , in this case the office of the Chief of Staff to the President.
He added that the CBN having informed ASRADI of this development, ” absorbed itself,” of any wrong or blame because it has acted according to the provisions of FOI Act.
Rather , the court blamed ASRADI who was aware that a letter has been send to the office of the chief of staff to the President for not following up the letter.
Besides, the judge held that the information sought about the medical bill of Buhari in London by the applicant falls under a personal information which requires his consent before disclosure in accordance with the FOI Act.
Before the judgment was delivered, Justice Tsoho had dismissed the objection raised by the CBN over the court jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
He added that the plaintiff did not violate any process of the law. It was properly instituted according to the Freedom of Information Act.
The court also found that the AGF was not a necessary party and accordingly struck out his name.
But the judgment contained that the two other defendants; CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, and the CBN filed their responses out of time but treated the non- compliance as an irregularities not sufficient to strike out the processes.
He also held that the applicant initiated the suit in compliance with procedures of the Freedom of Information Act for “a prerogative order of mandamus” compelling them to provide the information requested.