Falana decries NNPC’s rejection of FoI request for accountability
Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has berated the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for rejecting his request for Freedom of Information (FoI) for accountability.
The NNPC had rejected FoI request by Falana to provide information on the amount of money spent on petrol subsidy and turnaround maintenance of refineries.
In a letter titled ‘Re: Request for Information on Proposed Review of the Pump Price of Premium Motor Spirit’ dated March 1, 2018, the NNPC said: “We regret to inform you that the NNPC is not in a position to provide any information or document as your request is incongruous with, unsupported by or outside the scope and purview of the Freedom of Information Act. Be informed that the FoI Act is not applicable to the NNPC because it is not a public institution within the meaning of Section 31 of FOIA.”
Falana, in a paper titled “Advancing the anti-corruption fight:
The role of lawyers” and delivered at the SAY NO CAMPAIGN launched in Abuja, at the weekend, said: “Contrary to the untenable contention of the counsel, the NNPC is a public institution as the Federal Government has controlling interest in it and it is utilising public funds to provide public services. Indeed, because the NNPC is a public institution, its budget is appropriated by the National Assembly while its accounts are audited by auditors appointed by the Auditor-General of the Federation in line with Section 85 of the constitution.
“In exercise of its oversight functions, the National Assembly regularly conducts investigation into allegation of corrupt practices. Of course, the NNPC’s board reports to President Muhammadu Buhari in his capacity as the head of the Federal Government while the NNPC management reports to him as the Minister of the Petroleum Resources. It is, therefore, preposterous to say that the corporation is not a public institution.
“Under the FOI Act, public institutions mean all authorities whether executive, legislative or judicial agencies, ministries and extra-ministerial departments of government, together with all corporations established by law and all companies in which government has a controlling interest, and private companies utilizing public funds, providing public services or performing public functions.
“In exercise of my right under the Freedom of Information Act, I have had cause to request the NNPC to provide information on the fuel importation scam.
“As it has no answer to the questions which I raised, the NNPC claimed that it is not a public institution. In justifying the rejection of our request for information with respect to the disgraceful importation of fuel by Nigeria, a leading oil-producing nation, the
NNPC counsel claimed that the Corporation is not bound by the provision of the Freedom of Information Act.
“With respect, the misleading submission of the counsel does not represent the position of the management of the NNPC,” he further said.
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