Freedom Of Information Act Applicable To Lagos, Court Rules

Court Grants Bail To Suspected Military Pension Thieves
File photo

 

A Lagos High Court sitting in the Ikeja Judicial Division has ruled that the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011 is applicable to the Lagos State government.

A statement issued on Wednesday by the Programme Manager (Legal), Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Mrs Mosunmola Olanrewaju, said the court also ruled that the FOI Act does not require “domestication” by the state to have an effect.

Justice Beatrice Oke-Lawal held that the National Assembly had validly enacted the act, saying it was applicable to the Federal and state governments.

She gave the ruling after dismissing a preliminary objection raised by the Lagos State Ministry of Health in a suit instituted against the ministry and the state government by MRA, over its failure to disclose records and information requested by the organisation under the act.

The suit arose from a Freedom of Information request made by the agency in November 2016 to the ministry, asking for “details and copies of plans put in place by the institution to provide the Araromi Zion Estate located in Akiode Area of Ojodu Local Council Development Area (LCDA) with healthcare services.”

MRA had also requested for the details and copies of plans put in place to provide the estate with healthcare services, taking into consideration the peculiar needs and circumstances of the community.

Other request made were details of any assessment carried out on the needs of the community and its residents, as well as copies of relevant assessments reports; an outline of the timeframe for the implementation of the plans if there were any; and details of the budgets and costs estimates for the implementation of the plans.

Following the failure of the ministry to respond to the agency’s request, the MRA, through its lawyer, Mrs Olanrewaju, filed a suit against the ministry and the Attorney-General of the Federation.

In the suit, the agency asked the court to declare that the ministry’s refusal to provide it with the requested information was wrongful and also to compel the disclosure of the records and information to the organisation in accordance with the FOI Act.

The ministry, however, filed a notice of preliminary objection to the suit in which it contended that the court had no jurisdiction to determine the suit and asked that the suit be struck out on the grounds that it was not a juristic person that can sue or be sued.

It said that the substance of MRA’s case was not contained in the Exclusive Legislative List under the Second Schedule to the 1999 Constitution to confer exclusive power on the Federal Government to make the FOI Act for the Federation.

It also said MRA’s grievance was against the state government which is not an agency of the Federal Government, and that even if the FOI Act was applicable to Lagos State, the agency’s application for judicial review was filed outside the 30-day time limit stipulated by section 20 of the Act.

But Justice Oke-Lawal, in her ruling on the ministry’s preliminary objection on Tuesday, said three issues arose for determination in the matter which included whether the FOI Act was applicable to Lagos State, whether MRA was out of time in filing the suit, and whether the Lagos State Ministry of Health was a juristic person.

On whether the FOI Act was applicable to the state, the judge, after an analysis of Section 4(5) and (6) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), ruled that the National Assembly has the power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Federation on any matter included in the Concurrent Legislative List.

She added that if any law enacted by a State House of Assembly was inconsistent with any law made by the National Assembly, the law made by the National Assembly would prevail.

Justice Oke-Lawal said based on the provisions of these sections of the Constitution, she opined that the wordings of the Constitution were clear as to the powers of the National Assembly to make laws for the Federation as long as the issue was within the Concurrent and Exclusive Legislative lists.

She also upheld Mrs Olanrewaju argument that the FOI Act was validly enacted by the National Assembly and as such, was applicable to the Federation and not dependent on states adopting it for it to become applicable in such states.

In support of her position, she cited the decisions of the Supreme Court dismissing similar challenges made to the validity and applicability of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) Act to the states.

The judge, therefore, held that the FOI Act applies to the Government of the Federation as well as to state governments.

After ruling on other issues, she said the preliminary objection raised by the ministry lacked merit and accordingly dismissed it.

Justice Oke-Lawal then fixed December 20 for hearing in the substantive suit.

SERAP Sues Saraki, Dogara ‘Over Failure To Account For 500bn Naira Running Cost’

Bukola-Saraki-and-Yakubu-DogaraThe Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, “over failure to give account of the spending of 500 billion Naira as running cost between 2006 and 2016 and the monthly income and allowances of each Senator and member”.

The suits filed last Friday at the Federal High Court Ikoyi followed two Freedom of Information requests dated November 25, 2016 sent to both Dr Saraki and Mr Dogara.

The group in that request asked the leaders of the National Assembly to “urgently provide information about alleged spending of 500 billion Naira as running cost between 2006 and 2016, and the monthly income and allowances of each Senator and member of the House of Representatives”.

The originating summons, with suit numbers FHC/L/CS/1711/16 and FHC/L/CS/1710/16 respectively, were brought pursuant to section 4(a) of the Freedom of Information Act, and signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni.

SERAP’s suits against Dr Saraki and Mr Dogara followed disclosure by Abdulmumin Jibrin that Nigerian Senators and House of Representatives members had pocketed N500 billion as ‘running cost’ out of the one trillion Naira provided for in the National Assembly budgets between 2006 and 2016 and by former President Olusegun Obasanjo that each Senator goes home with nothing less than 15 million Naira monthly while each member receives nothing less than 10 million Naira monthly.

SERAP is asking the court to determine the question “Whether by virtue of the provision of section 4(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the Defendants are under an obligation to provide the Plaintiff with the information requested for”.

The suits read: “By virtue of Section 1(1) of the FOI Act 2011, SERAP is entitled as of right to request for or gain access to information which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution. Under the FOI, when a person makes a request for information from a public official, institution or agency, the public official, institution or agency to whom the application is under a binding legal obligation to provide the Plaintiff/Applicant with the information requested for, except as otherwise provided by the Act, within seven days after the application is received.

“The information requested for by SERAP relates to information about spending of 500 billion Naira as running cost between 2006 and 2016, and the monthly income and allowances of each Senator and member. The information requested by SERAP does not come within the purview of the types of information exempted from disclosure by the provisions of the FOI Act. The information requested for, apart from not being exempted from disclosure under the FOI Act, bothers on an issue of National interest, public concern, social justice, good governance, transparency and accountability.

“The Defendants will not suffer any injury or prejudice if the information is released to the members of the public. It is in the interest of justice that the information be released. Unless the reliefs sought herein are granted, the Defendants will continue to be in breach of the Freedom of Information Act, and other statutory responsibilities.

“Up till the time of filing this action the Defendants/Respondents have failed, neglected and/or refused to make available the information requested by SERAP. The particulars of facts of the failure, negligence and refusal are contained in the verifying affidavit in support of the application and shall be relied upon at the hearing of this application. The Defendants/Respondents have no reason whatsoever to deny SERAP access to the information sought for.

“It is submitted that Section 4(a) of the FOI Act 2011 is a mandatory and absolute provision which imposes a binding legal duty or obligation on a public official, agency or institution to comply with a request for access to public information or records except where the FOI Act expressly permits an exemption or derogation from the duty to disclose. Nigerian courts have consistently held that the use of mandatory words such as “must” and “shall” in a statute is naturally prima facie imperative and admits of no discretion.

“Obedience to the rule of law by all citizens but more particularly those who publicly took oath of office to protect and preserve the constitution is a desideratum to good governance and respect for the rule of law. In a democratic society, this is meant to be a norm. It is an apostasy for government to ignore the provisions of the law and the necessary rules made to regulate matters”.

The suits are seeking a declaration that the failure and/or refusal of the Respondents to disclose the spending of 500 billion Naira as running cost between 2006 and 2016, and the monthly income and allowances of each Senator and member amounts to a breach of the fundamental principles of transparency and accountability and violates Articles 9, 21 and 22 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.

They are also seeking a declaration that by virtue of the provisions of Section 1 (1) and Section 4 (a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the Defendants/Respondents are under a binding legal obligation to provide the Plaintiff/Applicant with up to date information on the spending allowances of each Senator and member including: Details of projects on which the N500 billion running cost between 2006 and 2016 were spent.

SERAP wants an order of mandamus directing and or compelling the Defendants/Respondents to provide the Plaintiff/Applicant with up to date information on the spending of 500 billion Naira as running cost between 2006 and 2016, and the monthly income and allowances of each Senator and member including: Details of projects on which the 500 billion Naira running cost between 2006 and 2016 were spent.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suits.

I Upheld Freedom Before And After Speech For All Nigerians – Jonathan

JonathanNigeria’s former President, Goodluck Jonathan has reiterated his support for freedom of speech for Nigerians, as enshrined in the nation’s constitution.

Addressing a gathering of lawyers at a dinner he attended in the United States on Saturday, the former Nigerian leader told the gathering that he was proud to say that his administration never placed ethno-religious interest above the individual values of Nigerians.

“I am proud to say that while we were conscious of the Federal Character, as our constitutional guiding principle, we never placed ethno-religious interest over our individual values.

“Accordingly, we made efforts to ensure that interest groups in the society feel safe and secured in their day to day activities.

“That is why no matter what any individual or group said about me, I ensured that there was both freedom of speech and freedom after the speech,” Dr. Jonathan stressed.

His speech comes at a time that most of his allies are facing corruption charges in different courts, with some of them in detention.

Expressing his support for what he called ‘freedom after speech’ he said: “Under my watch not a single Nigerian was sent to prison because of anything he or she wrote or said about me or the administration that I headed.

“Nigeria had neither political prisoners nor prisoners of conscience because we ourselves ensured that we acted accordingly in all we did.

“You in the diaspora can attest to the fact that there was no Nigerian on exile,” he stressed.

Before he lost his re-run election in 2015 to President Muhammadu Buhari, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, he was at a time described as the most abused leader, but he told the lawyers that he took a stand to uphold the freedom of speech for all Nigerians.

“Not only did I take a stand to allow people express their opinions without fear, we also enacted the Freedom of Information Act and by that we tore the veil of secrecy covering governance.

“Nigerians deserve to know how their government functions and I ensured that all institutions including the Nigeria bar association were completed devoid of any governmental influence”.

This speech is coming days after the former president dismissed allegations against a former National Security Adviser that served under him, insisting that Colonel Sambo Dasuki could not have stolen $2.2 billion under his watch as the president.

“I don’t believe somebody can just steal $2.2 billion. We bought warships, we bought aircraft, we bought lots of weapons for the army and so on and so forth and you are still saying $2.2 billion? So, where did we get the money to buy all those things?” he questioned while giving a lecture on Youth Entrepreneurship at the famous Oxford Union in the United Kingdom.

After that comment, the Nigerian government responded to his claims, saying that only a competent court can decide if Colonel Dasuki stole over two billion dollars meant for purchase or arms for the country or not.

NHRC To Translate Universal Declaration Of Human Rights Into Nigerian Languages

NHRCThe Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Professor Bem Angwe, has announced plans by the commission to translate the universal declaration of human rights into four major Nigerian languages as part of efforts to sensitize Nigerians on their rights.

Professor Angwe, who disclosed this in Abuja at an exhibition of human rights publications in local languages said that many Nigerians were unaware of their rights so they find it difficult to demand for such rights due to ignorance.

He further said that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was collaborating with the human rights commission of Mexico to make the universal declaration of human rights accessible to all Nigerians and all persons resident in the country.

Professor Bem Angwe had on Friday announced plans to inaugurate a committee of experts to review all existing laws that contravene the provisions of human rights in Nigeria.

He gave a hint about the planned review in Abuja when a member of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, Miss Faith Tlakula, led a delegation on a working visit to the headquarters of the commission.

Professor Angwe said that the committee, which was appointed last week, had been mandated to carry out a thorough review of such laws that impede the protection and enforcement of human rights.

NHRC To Review Laws Contravening Human Rights

Bem-Angwe-ProfessorThe National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has announced plans to inaugurate a committee of experts to review all existing laws that contravene the provisions of human rights in Nigeria.

The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Professor Bem Angwe, gave a hint about the planned review in Abuja on Friday when a member of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, Miss Faith Tlakula, led a delegation on a working visit to the headquarters of the commission.

Professor Angwe said the committee, which was appointed last week, had been mandated to carry out a thorough review of such laws that impede the protection and enforcement of human rights.

Miss Tlakula, who is also the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, said that her team came to the NHRC to know what the commission was doing to scale up compliance to the Freedom of Information Act in Nigeria.

She said that the NHRC was expected to play a leading role in meeting with civil society groups towards advocating a robust flow of information.

The leader of the delegation also decried the slow pace of disposing court cases concerning non-compliance to the Freedom of Information Act.

Union Seeks Better Welfare For Journalists

pressOwners of media organisations in Nigeria have been asked to improve the welfare of their employees and also ensure there is a life insurance policy for them.

The President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr Mohammed Garba, made the appealed on Monday, as Nigeria joins other countries to mark the World Press Freedom Day.

The NUJ President also warned security agencies and politicians to stop further harassment and intimidation of journalists while performing their official functions.

Mr Garba was spoke to Channels Television on Monday during a seminar to mark the World Press Freedom Day in Kaduna themed “Let Journalism Thrive Towards Better Reporting, Gender Equality and Media Safety in Digital Age”.

He also lamented that many journalists in Nigeria had suffered one form of brutality or harassment in the hands of security agencies, politicians and individuals while discharging their constitutional duties.

The NUJ President extolled the contribution of journalists in deepening the nation’s democracy, but expressed sadness over government’s poor implementation of the Freedom of Information Act.

During the last general elections in Nigeria, many Journalists were brutalised while covering campaign rallies and election.

Every year, May 3 is set aside as World Press Freedom Day. A date which celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom and to defend the media from attacks on their independence, as well as paying tribute to Journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.

The date serves as an occasion to inform citizens of violations of press freedom – a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while Journalists, Editors and Publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered.

NDDC Trains Staff To Comply With FOI Act

The managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Christian Oboh, has assured stakeholders and the general public of the agency’s readiness to comply with the Freedom of Information act.

This according to him, will enable anyone have the opportunity to seek and get information on the true state of affairs in the commission.

He said this while speaking at a one-day sensitisation and enlightenment training, on the FOI Act, for the management staff of the institution.

He explained that the training was part of efforts to create effective channels for the exchange of information with its key stake holders.

“The FOI act has ushered in a new dawn in the quest for transparency and accountability,” he said.

Mr Oboh stressed that the policy thrust of the NDDC was in tandem with objectives of the FOI Act and indeed all government’s policies that promote democracy.

According to the NDDC boss, everyone in the region have a right to know what goes on in the commission, especially as it concerns monitoring of projects.

He also noted that with the opportunity provided by the FOI Act, it would no longer be acceptable for people to be peddling unverified information about the activities of the commission.

He said that the commission found it necessary to train its management staff to get them fully abreast of the provisions of the FOI Act, so as to facilitate a seamless exchange of information between the NDDC and the public.

Also speaking at the event, the legal officer of the Africa programme, Open Society Justice Initiative, Maxwell Kadiri, x-rayed the duties and obligations of public institutions and their officials under the act.

He noted that challenges to the effective implementation of the act in public institutions could be traced to the culture of secrecy in the public service.

A lecturer at the Nasarawa State University, Profesor Ebele Amali, while presenting her paper said that information disclosure adds social, economic and political value to any nation.

She advised the agency to use benefits of the FOI Act to reduce the animosity that had built up in those who were not properly informed about the activities of the commission.

National Assembly Must Reveal Lawmakers Salary In Its Own Interest

A member of the House of Representatives, Abike Dadiri-Erewa, has revealed that the National Assembly will open up its books and reveal the controversial salary and emoluments of lawmakers “in its own interest.”

Mrs Dabiri-Erewa made this known at the 5th Wole Soyinka Centre media lecture series on Saturday in Lagos where she challenged the media and civil society organisations to further ask questions as she claim the National Assembly is ‘opening up’.

Reacting to the claim that Nigerian lawmakers are the highest paid in the world according to guest speaker at the lecture, Prof Biodun Jeyifo, Mrs Dabiri-Erewa declined to state her personal salary but stated that it will be in the best interest of the National Assembly to open-up.

When asked about her salary, she hinted that “I am a member of six different committees in the House of Representatives and I get less than N2million to run these committees in a month.”

According to her the annual budget of the National Assembly is N150billion while that of the Central Bank of Nigeria is N300billion.

She challenged Nigerians and the media to ask questions, maintaining that “the National Assembly is opening up and Nigerians should ask questions.”

The House chairperson on Diaspora accused the Nigerian media of a disappointing lackadaisical attitude towards the use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), passed two years despite the rigours undertaken to get the bill passed and signed into law.

The politician, who moved the FOIA motion in the House of Representatives, further challenged a member of the audience who she identified as Komolafe saying, “Go to court Mr Komolafe and let me see who will not answer the FOI in the National Assembly.”

The National Assembly is currently embroiled in a legal battle, appealing the judgment of a Federal High Court which ruled in favour of a civil society group request on the publication of the lawmakers’ salary.

Reps N15million Ramadan Gifts

Reacting to another claim by Prof Jeyifo lecture’s that the Nigerian political sphere is pervaded by massive corruption and mediocrity thereby election victories are not based on performances, the journalist turned politician averred that as a lawmaker, most of constituents do not ask her about her doings on the floor of the house but rather what is she bring to the table.

“People do not ask about bills passed or motions moved, what I’m asked is: what are you bringing to the table?”

She claimed that gifts that would be given out by some of her colleagues in the House during this Ramadan period is about N15million as she traced the anomaly to loss of values in the country and misuse of people’s power to vote.

She enjoined Nigerians to use their voting power to see they desired change by electing the right candidates and defending their votes.

“Look at the people you are voting for and make up your mind on what you want” she affirmed.

By Ayo Okulaja

 

Freedom Of Information Bill Is Under-Utilised In Nigeria

A member of the House of Representatives, Abike Dabiri-Erewa has accused the Nigerian media of a disappointing lackadaisical attitude to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) passed two years.

Noting that despite the rigours undertaken to get the bill passed and signed into law, she claimed the law has being grossly under-utilized by Nigerians and the media amidst the widespread corruption in the country.

Mrs Dabiri-Erewa made this known at the 5th Wole Soyinka Centre media lecture series on Saturday in Lagos where she challenged the media and civil society organisations to further ask questions on some of the revelations uncovered by the various committees of the House of Representatives.

Where is the money?         

Highlighting the $16billion fuel subsidy scam unveiled by an adhoc committee set-up by the House to investigate the fraudulent payment of fuel subsidy, the lawmaker asked “where is the money?”

“We (House of Representatives) brought the fuel subsidy scam to fore by revealing that there was no subsidy, that all we are subsidising was corruption and nobody has asked the question on what has happened to the money.”

The lawmaker, who sponsored the FOIA in the House, described the bill as a gift from the National Assembly stating that “the 7th Assembly has given this bill as a gift to Nigeria’s democracy,” but “nothing has happened afterwards with using the law.”

She claimed that the House Committee on the Implementation of the FOI has also just discovered that a lot of Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) do not have a FOI Unit to address such request when they are made as mandated by the law and “nobody is asking the questions” she lamented.

“Right now, only 29 MDAs are submitting the annual expenditure and nobody is asking questions.”

She also cited an example of the Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) which according to her earns about N26billion from the sale of forms to students seeking admission into the nation’s universities, “yet 86 per cent of these students are not given admission and nobody ask what JAMB does with the money.”

She however commended the Nigerian Army for the adequate implementation of the FOIA, saying that House Committee has discovered that the Army and a few agencies have set-up the FOI Unit and also have dedicated phone lines to address any FOI request.

“Let us use this law to know how the nation’s resources are used judiciously or not” she appealed.

Take Responsibility

In his comments, the chairman of National Human Rights Commission, Dr Chidi Odinkalu, noted that “the tyranny of rights cannot make progress with citizens who want to take responsibility.”

He linked the access to information with access to education as he enjoined Nigerians to demand explanations from government and public servants, who according to him “see access to information as a way to block how government is ran.”

Dr Odinkalu, however called for caution in the expectations of the FOIA, stating that Nigeria got the FOIA in 2011 after 100years of operating a secretive policy imposed by British colonial masters in 1911 and sustained onwards.

Delivering the keynote lecture Prof Biodun Jeyifo, had earlier in his lecture titled: The Freedom Of Information Act and the Dictatorship of Corruption and Mediocrity, decried Nigerians failure to use the FOIA despite some confessions of looting by politicians recently.

He recalled the duel between President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice-President Atiku Abubakar in 2006, when the former President asked the National Assembly to commence impeachment proceedings against the latter over the blatant looting of the Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF).

The academic stated that the Vice-President did not deny the charges but confessed that the President’s cronies and girlfriends were beneficiaries of the loot and this allegation was substantiated with series of newspaper publications of incriminating documents.


“No FOI action could bring out the information that was voluntarily divulged by Obasanjo and Atiku and till today, nothing has happened to the duo” said Prof Jeyifo.

He described the nation’s type of democracy as ‘dictatorship in democracy’ which is not paranoid or unembarrassed by any allegation of corrupt practices as corruption and mediocrity reigns supreme in this country.”

The Professor of African Studies and Comparative Literature from Harvard University, decried the media for being “remarkably reticent to compel our leaders to comply with the dictates of the FOI,” as he warned that “the nation’s democracy is averse to the rule of law and on the verge of a failed state.”

By Ayo Okulaja

Court Fixes Hearing On Asset Declaration Case

The National Coordinator of the Legal Defence And Assistance Project (LEDAP), Chino Obiagwu has said that the hearing for the case filed by the organisation against the Code of Conduct Bureau has been fixed for April 4 2013 by the Federal High Court Abuja.

LEDAP had filed a suit in July 2012 against the Code of Conduct Bureau demanding copies of the asset declarations of all federal ministers, state governors, the President and Vice President.

LEDAP had filed the suit to enforce its request to the bureau under the Freedom of Information Act.

However, the bureau claimed in its response that the Freedom of Information Act exempted it from disclosing declaration of assets of public officials because the asset declaration forms contain personal information about the assets of the officials and of their spouses and unmarried children.

In a letter signed by the Chairman of the bureau to LEDAP in July 2012, the agency said that it would not allow the public to know about the personal information of public officials because it has been exempted under sections 13(1)(v) and 15(1)(ii) of the Freedom of Information Act.

The Code of Conduct Bureau in the letter stated that “we note that Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act, as a general principle, guarantees the right of any person to access or request for information whether or in written form, which is in custody of Code of Conduct Bureau or indeed any public agency.  However, by Section 13(1)(v) of the Act, the Code of Conduct Bureau has power to decline your request as it will constitute an invasion of the personal privacy of the honourable ministers under section 15 of the Act. The asset declaration forms contain personal information about them and their properties, assets and liabilities and those of their spouses and unmarried children under the age of 18 and consequently comes under the exemption
under Section 13(1)(v) and 15(1)(ii) of the Act.”

In a statement released to Channels Television, LEDAP’s lawyer, Chino Obiagwu says that the claim by the bureau is not correct under the law. The information that the Bureau says are exempted under the FOI Act are the main target of the asset declaration law.

According to Mr Obiagwu, “the purpose of assets declaration laws is to enable the public and citizens know the worth of its public officials and their close relations so as to monitor how they acquire assets while in office and whether or not public funds are used for such acquisitions. This purpose cannot be achieved if the declarations are not accessible to the public. There is nothing private about the assets declaration. Any person who assumes public office must be ready to face public scrutiny”

LEDAP has now called on the judiciary to decide once and for all on the right of citizens to know the assets of their elected leaders and their spouse in order to monitor and report unlawful acquisitions. There is no way we can tackle corruption in this country if the civil society and indeed the citizens cannot have access to information on assets declared by the public officials and their dependants who they can use for unlawful acquisition of assets from misappropriated public fund”.

My Daily Travel Allowance Within Nigeria Is N25, 000 – Sanusi

The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has revealed that he earns N25, 000 per night as incidental allowance on his trips within the country.

The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

He said this in response to the request by a Lagos based lawyer, Bamidele Aturu, for details of his remuneration and expenditures in accordance with the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2011.

Mr Sanusi however failed to disclose his allowances for foreign trips as well as his full remuneration as he insisted that they were as approved by the Presidency.

But in a swift reaction, Mr Aturu said he was not satisfied with the CBN Governor’s response and insisted that he must reveal the full details of his earnings and allowances.

The lawyer noted that he planned to do a follow up on the request as it appeared that the CBN had misunderstood some of the questions.

Nonetheless, he commended the Governor for his response and said that it would encourage other public institutions to conduct their affairs transparently.

“We are impressed that the Governor is entitled to only N25, 000 as daily allowance when he travels within Nigeria. That is not excessive at all by Nigerian public officials’ standards and given his lofty position. However, it is a little troubling that while the Bank was willing to state the local daily allowance it refused to state what the Governor earns when he travels outside the country.

Mr Aturu, in a letter dated December 31, 2001 had requested that the CBN Governor provide information concerning recurrent expenditures for him and his office pursuant to Sections 1, 3 and 4 of the FOI Act 2011.

Mr Sanusi who responded through the CBN Legal Adviser/Director, Legal Services Department S. M. Onekutu said that, “The Governor’s remuneration is as stipulated by the Board and approved by Mr President in accordance with Section 8(3) of the CBN Act.

“Besides the governor’s emolument and indeed the emolument structure of the CBN is benchmarked against the banking industry as approved in the federal government’s white paper on the presidential committee on consolidation of emoluments in the Public Service.

“However, we are unable to release the details of the Governor’s salary and allowances as that information is already a subject of litigation in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1016/2011: Uzoegwu F. O. C Vs CBN & HAGF. The matter is on appeal and it will be prejudicial to comment on it.”

Other requests bordered on allowances on foreign trips, whether the CBN owned aircraft, what classes of flight the governor travelled in when on official trips within and outside the country, how many cleaners, drivers are attached to the governor’s office and residence as well as how much imprest he collects monthly among others.

Mr Onekutu disclosed that the governor travels Business Class within the country and First Class outside Nigeria and added that Mr Sanusi had occasionally used chartered planes to travel within and outside the country as dictated by exigencies.

On how many drivers are attached to Mr Sanusi’s office and home he said “the governor’s official drivers are drawn from the pool of drivers in the Governor’s Department, and are sourced from the pool of drivers in the Governor’s Office Department on need basis. On number of cleaners, he said “the Bank (CBN), as a matter of policy does not employ cleaners, therefore, there are no cleaners attached to his office or home.

On monthly imprest he said “No monthly imprest is maintained by the Governor” Onekutu said and maintained that the Governor’s entitlement for foreign trips is as approved by the Federal Government.

Mr Aturu said, “We still expect the Governor to answer the question as he is in a position to know exactly what he earns and if he does not know he could have simply said so.

“We agree with the Bank that the time frame we gave, as required by law, was insufficient to calculate or sum up the amount spent on chartered flights within and outside Nigeria. To this end, we shall be doing a follow up and although we are required to give seven days, we promise the bank not to sue immediately until about 28 days after the follow up to give the bank added time to add up the figures.”