In Nigeria, the Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) suit against the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for its refusal to act on the organisation’s information request seeking details of payments of licence fees by broadcasting stations and platforms operating in the country and the amount of indebtedness of each station.
According to media reports, MRA has asked the court to declare NBC’s failure as a violation of the FOI Act and to order the Commission to pay it US$2 293,72 “as exemplary and aggravated damages for unlawfully denying it the information.”
The NBC and the Attorney General of the Federation are named as respondents in the suit filed on behalf of MRA by freedom of expression lawyer Alimi Adamu, along with Ms Obioma Okonkwo, Mr Monday Arunsi and Ms Opeyemi Yakubu.
In a motion ex-parte brought under Order 34, MRA is seeking the following: a declaration that NBC’s denial of access to MRA of the information it requested by a letter dated August 22, 2022, constitutes a violation of the organisation’s right of access to information established and guaranteed by Section 1(1) and 4 of the FOI Act; amongst other things.
Commenting on the grounds upon which the suit was brought, Adamu argued that, “under Section 1 of the FOI Act, MRA has a right of access to information and can request information from any public institution such as NBC, which is an agency of the Government and that by the provisions of Section 1(1), the organisation needs not demonstrate any specific interest in the information being applied for.”
According to Adamu: “Although under section 4 of the Act, the NBC has to respond to MRA’s request within seven days, the Commission not only failed to provide the information requested within this period, it also failed to give the organisation a notice as required by Section 4 (b) of the Act that it would not grant the request.”
No date has been set for the hearing of the suit.
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