Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, thursday explained why the apex bank cannot provide information on the funds used to defray the cost of President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s treatment in London.
He also explained why CBN cannot provide information on how much it cost the country to keep a presidential aircraft and crew for 103 days at the Stansted Airport in the United Kingdom while President Buhariâ€™s medical treatment lasted.
Emefiele argued that it was not within the CBNâ€™s immediate responsibilities to provide such information.
He spoke in a reaction to a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1142/2017 filed before the Federal High Court, Abuja, by the Incorporated Trustees of Advocacy for Societal Rights Advancement and Development Initiative (ASRADI) led by its Executive Director, Adeolu Oyinlola.
ASRADI said in the suit that the CBN and its governor refused to honour its Freedom of Information (FoI) request contained in a letter of October 19, 2017, for information on the amount released for Buhariâ€™s medical treatment in London and the amount paid on behalf of the Nigerian Government as parking fees for keeping the presidential aircraft and crew in the UK while the presidentâ€™s treatment lasted.
In the suit, with the CBN, its governor and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as respondents, ASRADI wants a declaration that the information the respondents provided it with through its letter of October 19, 2017, â€œamounted to a wrongful denial of information and a flagrant violation of the provisions of the FoI Act 2011.â€
It also seeks an order compelling the respondents to furnish it with information sought in the letter of October 19, 2017, and a further order, mandating the CBN and its governor to pay the plaintiff N10million in damages â€œfor the willful refusal of the 1st and 2nd respondents to release information in respect of the applicantâ€™s letter dated October 19, 2017.â€
In a supporting affidavit, Oyinlola contended that it was within the responsibilities of the CBN and its governor to provide the requested information because they â€œare responsible for all foreign currency transactions of the Nigerian Government or transactions involving the Federal Government of Nigeria and foreign institutions as it concerns transfer of money outside the shores of Nigeria.â€
But in their counter affidavit filed on February 13 this year, the CBN and its governor urged the court to reject the applicantâ€™s prayers and dismiss the suit.
They equally urged the court to vacate an earlier ex-parte order granting leave to the applicant to apply for â€œa prerogative order of mandamusâ€ compelling them to provide the requested information.