Kwara civil society group drags River Basin authority to court over extortion

Posted by News Express | 5 June 2019 | 478 times

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The a Kwara-based civil society organisation, the Elites Network for Sustainable Development (ENetSuD), has dragged the Lower Niger River Basin Development Authority (LNRBDA) to the Federal High Court, Ilorin over an alleged N10,000 extortion related to application for information under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2011 by ENetSuD.

The River Basin authority was alleged to have requested for the payment of N10,000 into her Treasury Single Account on August 13, 2018 before the request for information on the 2017 Zonal Intervention Projects execution status by ENetSuD could be granted. In order to comply with the directive and access the volume of the information upon which the LNRBDA billed N10,000, ENetSuD made the payment on September 12, 2018 but was disappointed to be given a 3-page document in exchange for the money paid.

In a letter dated September 14, 2018 and signed by its Director of Legal Services, Mr. Luqman Raji, ENetSuD queried the LNRBDA to provide breakdown of how such 3-page document was justified with the N10,000 paid and insisted that such payment is not envisaged under section 8 of FOI Act 2011.

Consequently, the LNRBDA responded to on September 20, 2018 via a letter signed by its Principal Legal Officer, Mr. I.T. Mohammad, stating that “the FOI Act did not impose any obligation to render a breakdown on the token chargeable as fees, hence your request for a breakdown is misconceived. The fee paid was validly assessed under the law and demanded bonafide as an internally generated revenue lawfully achieved by the Authority and duly remitted to the Federation Account; and the Authority was obliged to charge fees for documentation and transcription.”

Not satisfied with the response, ENetSuD served the River Basin Authority a 30-day pre-action notice requesting for refund of the money, failure of which it would approach the law court for redress. Due to failure of LNRBDA to comply with the notice, the registered trustees of ENetSuD filed a suit no FHC/IL/CS/28/2019 at the Federal High Court, Ilorin on April 10, 2019 against the Authority. The hearing on the case came up on May 27, 2019 where ENetSuD’s ex-perte application was granted.

After hearing a counsel for ENetSuD, S.H. Bayero (representing) Lukman Raji, the presiding judge, Justice B.G. Ashigar, ordered and granted ENetSuD the leave to file a writ of mandamus against LNRBDA. He also ordered that a copy of the order together with all processes filed in the suit be served on LNRBDA for response within seven days from the date of service.

He then adjourned the matter to June 24, 2019 for mention

Source: News Express

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