FOI ACT: COURT GRANTS HEDA RESOURCE CENTER LEAVE TO SUE CBN.
Uploaded by Michael George on March 18, 2020
A Non-governmental Organisation, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, HEDA, has gotten the nod of the Federal High Court to proceed in a Freedom of Information Act case againt the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
HEDA, also known as HEDA Resource Center is a leading anti corruption NGO with a mandate to protect and promote universally recognized human rights, accountability and environmental justice in Nigeria and Africa, in accordance with international standards.
It wants the CBN to avail to it the details of the resolutions of the charges of improper repatriation of funds reached by a telecommunication company, MTN and the Apex bank.
In a statement in Lagos, HEDA alleged that the CBN had sometimes in 2018 revealed that MTN Nigeria illegally repatraited foreign exchange of about eight point thirteen Billion dollars with irregularly issued Certificates of Capital Importation by some commercial banks.
The CBN also alleged that MTN converted its shareholders’ loan to Preference shares without fulfilling the requisite conditions.
The statement alleges that The Nigeria Lawyer Online on the 24th of December 2018 reported that the alleged charge of improper repatriation leveled against MTN Nigeria was resolved to the tune of fifty two point six Million dollars as against eight point thirteen Billion dollars earlier reported as the fine to be paid by the telecommunication company.
The reports on the alleged resolution prompted HEDA to invoke the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 to demand, by way of a freedom of information request that the Governor of Central bank of Nigeria furnish it with the records and details of the resolution on the said transactions.
It’s request was pursuant to the provisions of Section 2, 3, and 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
According to the statement, the CBN responded to the request dated January Seventh 2019 but failed to supply the requested information.
This compelled HEDA to file a suit at the Federal High Court Abuja on 2nd July, 2019 seeking leave to apply for an order of mandamus compelling the office of the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria to supply the detailed information on the alleged resolution between the Apex bank and MTN Nigeria on the charges of improper repatriation of funds.
After several adjournments, on Wednesday, 19th February 2020, HEDA’s motion was moved before Justice Chikiere.
The Judge granted the Applicant’s motion exparte seeking HEDA’s leave to file a motion on notice.
The case has been adjourned to Wednesday, 16th May 2020.
Meanwhile, HEDA is alleging that the contract and agreement between MTN and the CBN has remained shrewed in secrecy with the contents and conditions known only to both parties and a few of their lawyers.
By Fabian Anawo