The Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla has filed an objection against the suit by the rights advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) seeking information on stolen funds recovered by the federal government since 1999.
Counsel representing the Accountant-General, Mr Gbenga Sheba, informed the Federal High Court sitting in Ikeja on Tuesday that he had filed his preliminary objection to the suit but was yet to serve it on the plaintiff(SERAP).
The second respondent in the suit, the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), is also yet to be served with the processes of the preliminary objection.
SERAP had filed the suit December 2011, seeking for the said information on the strength of provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FoI) 2011.
The rights advocacy group claimed that it filed the suit following the “failure to release information and documents on the spending of recovered stolen funds.”
But the Accountant-General, in his preliminary objection, is challenging the competence of the suit, saying it was filed out of time as stipulated in the FoI Act.
The FoI Act provides that any applicant who has been denied access to information requested can file such an application at the court for a review of the matter within 30 days.
Other grounds of the Accountant-General’s objection includes the fact that the FoI Act, which only came to force in May 2011, could not be applied retrospectively, in requesting for information concerning years before the enactment of the law.
Counsel to the accountant general, Mr Sheba has therefore sought for an adjournment to enable him to serve SERAP and the office of the Attorney General with the processes of his preliminary objection to the suit.
Presiding judge, Justice Steven Adah adjourned the matter till the 8th of May for hearing of the preliminary objection.