FoI Act: Court Orders IG to Provide Details of 80,115 ‘Ghost’  Officers

0
  • Awards N500,000 damages against police boss

By Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

A Federal High Court in Abuja has issued an Order of Mandamus compelling the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to grant a non governmental organisation (NGO),  Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), access to the list of 80,115 ‘ghost’ officers reportedly  discovered in police formations and commands through the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

The court order followed the failure of the IGP to acquiesce to the demand by CSJ to be furnished with the details of the 80, 115 ‘ghost’ police officers

Under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, CSJ had on April 3, 2018 written to the IGP, requestIing information on the details of the 80,115 ‘ghost’ officers.

CSJ’s move followed the disclosure by the Minister of Finance at the presentation of the updated report on the implementation of the IPPIS to the Federal Executive Council on  March 21, 2018 that 80,115 ghost police officers were on the payroll of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

CSJ through the said letter requested for the details of the “ghost officers”. However, the office of the IGP did not make the said information available and failed to give reasons for its inability to grant the request.

Subsequently, the NGO approached the Federal High Court in Abuja in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/493/2018 for the following reliefs:

* A declaration that denying the applicant access to the details of the list of 80,115 ghost officers recently discovered in the Police Formations and Command through the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) without explanation constitutes an infringement of the Applicant’s right guaranteed and protected by section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.

* A declaration that the continued refusal of the Respondent to grant to the Applicant access to the details of the list of 80,115 ghost officers recently discovered in the Police Formations and Command through the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) despite Applicant’s demand violates Section 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

*A declaration that the continued refusal of the Respondent to grant access to the Applicant of the details  of the list of 80,115 ghost officers recently discovered in the Police Formations and Command through the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) without explanation constitutes an infringement of the applicant’s right guaranteed and protected by Section 48 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007.

*An order of Mandamus  compelling the respondent to grant to the applicant access to the list of 80,115 ghost officers recently discovered in the Police Formations and Command through the implementation of the IPPIS, specifically the names and contact addresses of the ‘ghost’ officers, their ranks, bank account numbers, Bank Verification Numbers (BVN), their monthly salaries and emoluments ande the total money paid to each and every one of them”

CSJ also sought for an  order compelling the respondent (IGP) to pay to the applicant the sum of N500, 000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) as damages for denying the Applicant access to information.

On October 22, 2019 the Federal High Court delivered judgement declaring that in the absence of any defence by the Respondent, some of the reliefs sought by the Applicant had been granted as prayed.

The court declared that denying the Applicant access to the details of the list of 80,115 ghost officers recently discovered in the Police Formations and Command through the implementation of the IPPIS without explanation constitutes an infringement of the Applicant’s right guaranteed and protected by Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.

it also declared that the continued refusal of the Respondent to grant to the Applicant access to the details of the list of 80,115 ghost officers despite Applicant’s demand violates Section 4 of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.

According to the court, the continued refusal of the Respondent to grant access to the Applicant, of the details   of the 80,115 ghost officers recently discovered without explanation constitutes an infringement of the Applicant’s right guaranteed and protected by Section 48 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007.

It, therefore, issued an Order of Mandamus compelling the Respondent to grant to the Applicant access to the list of 80,115 ghost officers recently discovered in the Police Formations and Command through the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

The court also issued an order compelling the Respondent to pay to the Applicant the sum of N500, 000  as damages for denying the Applicant access to information.