By Odunewu Segun
Human rights activist lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN says he intends to drag the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to court over the rejection of his request that the NNPC provides information on the amount of money spent on petrol subsidy and turnaround maintenance of refineries under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Recall that the NNPC in reply to Falana’s request last month which was published by National Daily had stated that it was not in a position to provide any information or document as the request by the lawyer was incongruous with, unsupported by or outside the scope and purview of the FOI Act.
However in a telephone conversation with National Daily, Falana threatened to sue the NNPC, adding that his request was well within the purview of the Freedom of Information Act.
He said contrary to NNPC’s argument, the corporation is a public institution since the federal government has controlling interest in it and it is utilizing public funds to provide services. “It is therefore preposterous to say that the corporation is not a public institution,” Falana said.
“In exercise of my right under the Freedom of Freedom of Information Act, I have had cause to request the NNPC to provide information on the fuel importation scam. As it has no answer to the questions which I raised the NNPC claimed that it is not a public institution.
In justifying the rejection of our request for information with respect to the disgraceful importation of fuel by Nigeria, a leading oil producing nation the NNPC Counsel claimed that the Corporation is not bound by the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. With respect, the misleading submission of the Counsel does not represent the position of the Management of the NNPC.”
Falana disclosed that he is ready to take the matter to the next level by dragging the NNPC to court over violation of his rights under the FOI act.
Under the FOI Act, public institutions mean all authorities whether executive, legislative or judicial agencies, ministries and extra-ministerial departments of government, together with all corporations established by law and all companies in which government has a controlling interest, and private companies utilizing public funds, providing public services or performing public functions.