Court grants Ajulo leave to sue NDDC for misapplication of N40b
A Federal High Court, Abuja presided over by Justice A. I. Chikere has granted leave to constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, Olukayode Ajulo, to sue the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for failure to grant his Freedom of Information Act (FoI) requests.
Among other things, Ajulo had requested the publication of budgetary appropriations made by the National Assembly to the NDDC from 2010 to 2020, as well as names and designation of legislators, who were awarded contracts or who have otherwise benefitted in whatever manner from the commission’s budgets from 2010 to 2020.
In a statement made available to The Guardian, Ajulo explained that in the motion filed on October 16, 2020, he joined Managing Director of the NDDC, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami and the National Assembly, as respondents.
In July 2020, the House of Representatives commenced investigation of NDDC’s finances, particularly the alleged mismanagement of ₦40 billion by the commission’s Interim Management Committee (IMC).
But the Acting Deputy Director, Projects told the House of Representatives Committee that some members of the National Assembly usually hijacked NDDC’s budget, hence the institution of the suit by Ajulo to uncover how government officials were spending tax payers’ money.
Moving the motion ex parte, a lawyer in Kayode Ajulo & Co. Castle of Law, Ifunanya Okeke, who led Eme Jackson and Glory Uhunmwangho to the court, noted that Ajulo had written the NDDC requesting same to fulfill its statutory obligation under the FOI Act and to comply with provisions of Section 2(3), (4), (5), Section 29(1), (2) and Section 13 of the Act.
She further noted that since NDDC received and acknowledged receipt of the letters dated September 2, 2020 and September 29, 2020, which were also copied Attorney General of the Federation and the National Assembly, but that the NDDC had refused to comply with the requests in the letters.
Justice Chikere, therefore, granted Ajulo leave to apply for judicial review the actions of NDDC and its officials under the FOI Act and claim the reliefs he was seeking and thereafter, the court adjourned the matter to November 19, 2020 for sustained hearing.