A Federal High Court in Abuja has given approval to a request for the prosecution of a suit seeking to compel the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and its Governor, Godwin Emefiele to disclose details of some of the bank’s recent dealings.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, in a ruling, granted leave to the Incorporated Trustees of Advocacy for Societal Rights Advancement and Development Initiative (ASRADI) to apply for judicial review, vide order of mandamus, compelling the CBN and its Governor to furnish, supply and make available to it, all information or answers relevant to all the questions contained in its letter to the respondents dated, October 12, 2020, on its expenditure.
The judge ordered the ASRADI to proceed to file the substantive suit and serve the respondents before February 11, 2021, being the date slated for the hearing of the matter.
The ruling delivered on December 2, 2020, a copy of which was sighted on December 4, 2020, was on an ex-parte application marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1431/2020 filed by ASRADI 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 made 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 taxpayers’ 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 in the affidavit.
Some of the questions the group wants the CBN to answer include, whether it 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 circumstances?
“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?”