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FOI Litigation

What do you do when, you have written and submitted an FOI request yet, the agency refuses to release the information? You can then go to court. Also, you can challenge any other types of adverse determination, including a rejection for failure to describe adequately the documents being requested or responses indicating that no requested records were located. The real fruit of FOI falls under the stone of litigation. You can challenge the agency’s refusal to conduct an adequate search for the documents that you requested. The impact of FOI litigation reaches far beyond the records at issue but for open government and inclusive governance.

The impact of FoI litigation reaches far beyond the records but for open government and inclusive government

Request Legal Assistance in Pursuing FOIA Litigation

Individuals, community groups, and organizations everywhere rely on information – data, reports, policy statements, or other records – held by the government. If you would like to request assistance with FOIA-related litigation,you can download the request submitted and we will take it from there. Contact us at Please include in your e-mail:

  • Your name and contact information
  • A short description of the documents or information you seek
  • The name of the agency that you believe has the documents or records
  • The status of your FOIA request
  • A scan receipt copy of the FOI request

Practice Tips:

  • A judicial review may be undertaken upon either, the denial of an initial FOIA request, or an Agency’s failure to issue a determination within the statutory 7-day time deadline.
  • Deadlines for the filing of a judicial review in each is as short as 30 days, so it is important for the applicant to act promptly when a denial of your initial request is issued or after 7 days of non-response. Although, if you miss your review deadline you could always refile another FOIA request or ask the court for an extension of time to review.
  • Remember that you are not only trying to convince the agency to release the requested materials, but you are also creating a record for a judge to review should legal action be required. So, ensure that the recipient stamped or acknowledged the letter you used for the request application.

“Court decision on FoI at the least acts as an encouragement to FoI activists that there is a chance to play the information game under a set of rules than those used by the public service and government ministries”  Rick Snell “Brandies Diary” (2016).

  • Litigating FOIA cases requires considerable knowledge of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, Civil Procedure Rules, Evidence Act 2010, and Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules 2009 among other legislation.
  • This guide to FOIA litigation is designed to provide a very cursory overview of litigation-related issues pertaining to FOIA in order to assist you to best develop your case to ensure that if you are required to seek judicial review, you will have a winning case. However, this information should not be viewed as a substitute for obtaining legal counsel with an attorney qualified to evaluate the specific merits, issues, or tactical considerations presented by your specific case.
  • FOI Counsel provides free consultations on all FOI cases and our Counsel community has considerable experience litigating FoI cases and appeals. We can provide you with legal counsel and representation in all FOI litigation before trial and appellate courts.
  • The action may be filed in the High Court in the district where the complainant resides, has a principal place of business, or in which the agency records are located
  • The complaint, in addition to demanding the release of the records at issue, and/or the granting of a fee waiver, could further seek: 

i) An order declaring the agency’s actions to be violative of FOIA. 

ii) An award of cost of litigation of N500, 000 pursuant to section 28 of the FOIA 2011.

iii) If the actions of the agency were so flagrant to be arbitrary and capricious, ask that the court declare the action unconstitutional and illegal.

Click here to submit your FOI Request letter. Below is a sample FOI Request Letter which you can download for reference.