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FOI request on Buhari’s overseas medical expenses sets Emefiele, Kyari against each other

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The CBN authorities have declared it is not within their powers to provide information on President Muhammadu Buharo’s medical expenses while he was away for 103 days in the UK last year.
The CBN and its Gov. Godwin Emefiele stated this in their court papers filed before Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court in Abuja in opposition to the suit marked,
FHC/ABJ/CS/1142/2017 in response to the suit filed by the Incorporated Trustees of Advocacy for Societal Rights Advancement and Development Initiative (ASRADI).
ASRADI, led by its Executive Director Adeolu Oyinlola, joined the AGF office in the suit.
The rights group said the CBN and its governor refused to honour its Freedom of Information request contained in its letter of October 19, 2017.
In their counter affidavit filed on February 13, 2018, the CBN and its governor urged the court to reject the applicant’s prayers and dismiss the suit.
They prayed the court to vacate an earlier ex parte order granting leave to the applicant to apply for “a prerogative order of mandamus” compelling them to provide the information requested.
According to them, they received the October 19, 2017 letter from ASRADI, but forwarded it to the President’s Chief of Staff, who they believed was the proper person to provide the information sought by the applicant.
The CBN and its governor accused the applicant of failing to inform the court that they wrote it, informing the group to resort to the President’s Chief of Staff for the information it sought.
“The particular information sought by the applicant related to the overseas medical expenses incurred on the President of Nigeria, General Muhammadu Buhari and the aircraft parking fees at the Stansted Airport in the UK.”
The apex bank added that the request should have been made to the President’s Chief of Staff.
In the suit, ASRADI sought a declaration that the respondents’ refusal to provide it with information sought through its letter of October 19, 2017 “amounts to a wrongful denial of information and is a flagrant violation of the provisions of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2011.”
It also prayed the court for an order compelling the respondents to provide it with information sought in the letter of October 19, 2017.
The group also prayed for an order mandating the CBN and its governor to pay the plaintiff N10m in damages “for the wilful refusal of the 1st and 2nd respondents to release information in respect of the applicant’s letter dated October 19, 2017.”
In a supporting affidavit, Oyinlola contended that it was within the responsibilities of the CBN and its governor to provide the requested information saying they “are responsible for all foreign currency transactions of the Nigerian government or transactions involving the Federal Government of Nigeria and foreign institutions concerning transfer of money outside the shores of Nigeria.”
Justice Tsoho adjourned till April 17 for the hearing of the main suit along with any objection filed by any of the respondents.

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