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MRA applauds as court orders federal ministries to pay journalist N2m for withholding information

By Sunday Aikulola (Lagos) and Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna)
04 February 2022   |   4:00 am
A Federal High Court in Abuja has ruled that the refusal of the Federal Ministries of Finance and Youth and Sports Development to provide an Abuja-based journalist, Godsgift Onyedinefu, with the information she requested...

A Federal High Court in Abuja has ruled that the refusal of the Federal Ministries of Finance and Youth and Sports Development to provide an Abuja-based journalist, Godsgift Onyedinefu, with the information she requested in 2019 on the cost of Nigeria’s participation in the 2018 World Cup amounted to an unlawful violation of her right of access to information. It, therefore, ordered them to pay the plaintiff N2 million as damages.

Delivering judgment in two separate suits filed by the journalist against the ministries, Justice Donatus Uwaezuoke Okorowo directed them to make available to her, all the information she applied for by her letter dated June 3, 2019 not later than seven days from the judgment and pay her N1 million each as exemplary and aggravated damages for the unlawful violation of her right of access to information through the wrongful denial of the information to her in breach of Section 7 (4) of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011.

REACTING yesterday in a statement by its Media Communication Officer, Idowu Adewale, the Media Rights Agenda (MRA) commended the ruling.

Adewale said: “In the first suit filed on her behalf on July 26, 2019 by Lagos-based lawyer and member of Media Rights Agenda’s Network of FOI Lawyers, Mr. Charles Musa, the journalist named as defendants the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development and the Attorney-General of the Federation, while in the second suit, filed on the same day, she named as defendants the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Minister of Finance and the Attorney-General of the Federation.”