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Court Refuses to Compel Buhari to Disclose Cost of Treatment Abroad


A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Tuesday struck out a suit which sought the court order to compel President Muhammadu Buhari and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) cost of the President’s treatment abroad.
The Incorporated Trustees of Advocacy for Societal Rights Advancement and Development Initiative (ASRADI), had brought the suit against Buhari and the CBN.
The trial Judge, Justice John Tsoho, while delivering judgmentyesterday said the plaintiff/applicant’s request was “misconceived, misguided and bound to fail.”
ASRADI led by its Executive Director, Adeolu Oyinlola, had, approached the court for an order to compel the CBN and its Governor, to provide information on the amount released for Buhari’s medical treatment in London and the amount paid on behalf of the Nigerian government as parking fees for keeping the presidential aircraft and crew in the UK while the President’s treatment lasted.
The CBN, its Governor, Godwin Emefiele and the Attorney General of the Federation, (AGF).were joined as respondents in the suit.
Justice Tsoho, however, held in his judgment that information on the health of the President, which the plaintiff sought for, is considered personal, adding also that the plaintiff has not placed any evidence before the court to show that the President has consented to making public information on his health.
He said the Freedom of Information Act which relied upon by the plaintiff exempted some category of people., which according to the court, include personal files of elected officers, employes, or appointees. He said such information without the consent of people concerned cannot be released to the public.
He said the respondents ceased to be responsible to the plaintiff on the day the letter written by the plaintiff was transferred to the office of the Chief of Staff to the President.
Justice Tsoho said the plaintiff is not entitled to any damage because he has not suffered any personal loss and dismissed the suit, having held earlier that though the suit was properly filed before the court.
The applicant in the suit, numbered, FHC/ABJ/CS/1142/2017 wanted the court to declare that the refusal of the respondents to provide the information requested in a letter dated 19th October, 2017, “amounted to a wrongful denial of information and a flagrant violation of the provisions of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2011.”
Responding to the submission of the 1st and 2nd respondents that his letter has been forwarded to the office of the Chief of Staff to President Buhari for necessary action, Chukwuwinke Okafor, who represented the applicant told the court that the letter forwarded to the presidency was the one dated 29th August, 2017 and not the one before the court dated 19th October, 2017.
Counsel to the 1st and 2nd respondents, Babafemi Durojaiye, said there is no difference between the applicant’s letters of 29th August and 19th October.
While stating that there may have been some mistake somewhere, the lawyer, insisted that what was sent to the Chief of Staff to the president was the letter of 19th October, 2017.
Durojaiye, further told the court that the applicant in his claim, contravened section 136 of the Evidence Act, noting that though President Buhari was out of the country for 103 days, the applicant did not show any evidence that the president’s aircraft was parked at the Stansted Airport in the United Kingdom while President Buhari’s medical treatment lasted.
L. A. Amegor, counsel to the AGF, in a notice of preliminary objection urged the court to dismiss the applicant’s suit on the grounds that the suit was status barred and that the suit was initiated without due regards to the law.


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