A Federal High Court in Abuja has given its nod for the prosecution of a suit seeking to compel the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and its Governor, Godwin Emefiele to make public details of some of the bank’s recent dealings.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, in a ruling, granted leave for an application for “judicial review vide an order of mandamus, compelling the 1st and 2nd respondents (the CBN Governor and the bank) to furnish all information” on its expenditure as sought by a group, the Incorporated Trustees of Advocacy for Societal Rights Advancement and Development Initiative (ASRADI).
Justice Ojukwu ordered the ASRADI to proceed to file the substantive suit and serve the respondents before February 11, 2021, which she scheduled for hearing.
The ruling delivered on December 2, 2020, a copy of which was sighted on December 4, 2020 was on an ex-parte application filed by ASRADI, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1431/2020, and argued by its lawyer, Jude Mmouka.
ASRADI’s Executive Director, Adeolu Oyinlola stated, in a supporting affidavit, that his group resorted to the court action owing to the respondents’ refusal to honour its Freedom of Information (FOI) request on some recent expenditure undertaken by the CBN.
“The 1st and 2nd respondents have deliberately failed/refused/neglected to make available to the applicant the information requested for.
“The public interest to be served by the information requested by the applicant from the 1st and 2nd respondents outweighs any other consideration(s) for denying the request.
“The applicant’s application is underscored or motivated by the desire to prevent or at least, discourage abuse of power or public office and wastage of public funds or tax payers’ money.
“Unless there is an order from this honourable court compelling or mandating the 1st and 2nd respondents to do so, they may not willingly, freely and readily make available to the applicant all the information requested for,” Oyinlola said.
Some of the questions the group wants CBN to answer include:
*Has CBN had dealings with any company with which late Ismaila Isa Funtua was connected? Who are the current owners of Keystone Bank? And, how much was paid for the acquisition of Keystone Bank and what is its share structure?
*Did CBN provide foreign exchange to Teleology Holdings Ltd (or any other entity to which it is associated) during its acquisition of defunct Telecom Service Provider ETISALAT? If so, what was the quantum? On what terms and under what arcumstances?
*Has CBN’s parking lot in any location been expanded, extended, upgraded or improved? If the answer is in the affirmative, when, at what cost and by which firm? Was the contract advertised as required by the Public Procurement Act?