The government of Lagos State, has on Friday, rejected a Freedom of Information, FoI, request for the CCTV footage of the ordered shooting of peaceful EndSARS protesters at Lekki toll gate, on Tuesday night, October 20, 2020, in the State,
This was contained in a letter written by Deyemi Bamgbose, on behalf of the Attorney-General of the State.
A Human Rights Lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, had written a letter to the Lagos State Government last week, invoking the FoI Act 2011.
Effiong in the letter addressed to the Governor of the State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, requested for the CCTV footage of the said night, in the interest of the Nigerian public.
However, in a response dated November 3, 2020, titled: ‘Re: Urgent Request Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act 2011’, the State Government said that it cannot make the CCTV footage available, because the FoI Act is a Federal law, and does not apply to States.
The government also cited a 2018 Court of Appeal judgement, to back its claim.
“I am further directed to inform you that the laws of Lagos State do not include the Freedom of Information Act, which is a Federal law that is not applicable to the State. As such, your request cannot be granted”, the letter read in part.
The Lagos State Government said that in the case of EDOSACA vs Osakue and others, in 2018, the Court of Appeal ruled that: “My strong view on it is that given the provisions of the said Act as presently enacted vis a vis Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution and Items 4 and 5 of Part 2, 2nd schedule thereof, the Applicant is not bound to comply with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.”
It was however, gathered that another Court of Appeal in Akure, in April 2018, had ruled that the FoI Act is applicable to all States of the Federation, but the Lagos State Government selected the ruling that could justify its decision not to honour the FoI request.
The FoI Act, which was signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan, in 2011, makes it mandatory for public records to be made available to those who request for it.
Nonetheless, Lagos State and many others have in the last few years, refused to honour FoI requests, even as Civil Society groups accuse them of running an opaque government.
More news later…