SAN FRANCISCO, April 13, (THEWILL) – The Court of Appeal has ruled that no state in Nigeria has the power to reject requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FoI).
The decision came in an appeal filed by Martins Alo, a journalist, against the Speaker of Ondo State House of Assembly and Auditor-General of Ondo State.
Alo had demanded the audited report of the Ondo State Government between 2012 and 2014 to properly access how public funds are utilised in the state but the request was rejected, prompting him to seek judicial redress.
The Akure Division of the Ondo State High Court had previously ruled in 2016 that Alo had no right to demand how the state was spending money, saying the FoI was not applicable to states and the request was not in public interest to begin with.
However, Alo’s lawyer, Femi Emodamori, appealed the ruling on behalf of his client, arguing that Akintoroye erred in his judgment and that his client was acting in public interest.
In its judgement, a three-member panel at the Court of Appeal rejected Akintoroye’s ruling and agreed with the appellant that the FoI was applicable to states and it was in public interest for the state government to release its audited report.
In its ruling, the court said requests for information, especially around public expenditure, under the Act are made in public interest and should be honoured by all states.