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Court affirms NGOs Right to sue Bank of Industry

In a suit filed by Registered Trustees of Citizens Awareness Against Corruption Initiative against Bank of Industry for failure to disclose information relating to list of beneficiaries of BOI loan under small, medium and large scale businesses. The information sought also include list of dafaulters. The application is dates 7th day or August 2020 and received same date by the bank.

On 13th day of August 2020, the head of legal responded on behalf of the organization stating that the FOIA is not binding on the organization as it does not fall under Ministries, Department and Agencies. The bank also states that it does not draw from national budget.

The group approached the Federal High Court to ascertain the position of the law viz aviz the bank. In suit no: FHC/ABJ/CS/1083/2020 the group is asking the court to first give it leave to sue the bank and also to grant it’s reliefs in it’s substantive application.

The executive director of the NGO Japhet Onlede in an interview states that “our organisation primary objectives include anti corruption, monitoring and evaluation, so we sought for information relating to activities of Bank of Industry (BOI) a an intervention agency ,in a bid to enlighten the citizens of this country about the activities of agencies and they want to deny us the right”.

The organisation is seeking the list of defaulters of loan which has an indirect or direct negative impact on micro and macro bussines climate in the country.

The group has sought the federal high court in Abuja to interprete relevant sections of the Freedom of Information Act that mandated even private organisations in Nigeria to divulge relevant information to groups and individuals on request. They also prayed the honourable court to compel Bank of Industry (BOI) to release certified true copies of all information sought by the organisation

The group was represented by FOI COUNSEL a specialized legal aid group that assist citizens and NGOs to access public records through advocacy, research and litigation.

Hon. Justice Evelyn Maha granted the ex parte application ordered BOI to be served with the originating summons on issues above identified. The case has been adjourned to 9th day of February 2021 for hearing.

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