Court Strikes Out Suit Seeking Disclosure Of Buhari’s Medical Bill
The Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday struck out a suit seeking for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to disclose the cost of President Muhammadu Buhari’s medical bill in London.
The plaintiff in the suit which is the Incorporated Trustees of Advocacy for Societal Rights Advancement and Development Initiative (ASRADI) led by its Executive Director, Adeolu Oyinlola, Specifically sought for an order to compel the CBN and its Governor, to provide information on the amount released for Buhari’s medical treatment in London.
The plaintiff also asked the court to declare that the refusal of the CBN to provide the information requested in a letter dated October 19, 2017, “amounted to a wrongful denial of information and is a flagrant violation of the provisions of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2011.”
Delivering judgement on the suit, Justice John Tsoho on Tuesday held that the applicant’s application for judicial review as against the action of the CBN which was “misconceived and misguided”.
Justice Tsoho noted that sections 12, 14, and 15 of FOI Act provide exemptions to the request for information.
The court held that section 14(1b) of the FOI Act provides that subject to subsection 2, a public institution must deny the application on information that contains personal information, personal files etc of appointees, political office holders etc.
It is also the contention of the court that by virtue of section 14(2) of the FOI Act, the disclosure of information pertaining to political office holders must be with the consent of the person.
In this case, Justice Tsoho held that President Buhari is a political office holder, and therefore, information concerning his health must not be disclosed except with his consent.
In addition, the court observed that following the request by the applicant for information on Buhari’s health issue, the request, from the deposition in the counter affidavit of the 1st and 2nd respondents showed that the letter of request was forwarded to the office of the Chief of Staff to President Buhari.
The transfer of the request letter was made in accordance with section 5(1) of the FOI Act.
Consequently, in line with section 5(2) of the Act, the court stated that the forwarding of the request for information was deemed to have been properly made.
In view of this, the court held that the applicant’s request would have been channelled to the office of the Chief of Staff to President Buhari.