A civil society organisation, Elites Network for Sustainable Development (ENetSuD), has successfully gained access to information from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) on how public funds were expended for 2017 constituency projects in Kwara State.
The ministry bowed to the anti-corruption group’s legal pressure after about three years in court, according to a statement issued by Saeed Tijjani, the group’s Press Secretary.
In April 2019, ENetSuD sued the FMARD after the ministry failed to respond to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request the group instituted on how public funds received for the execution of 2017 constituency projects in Kwara State were spent.
ENetSuD’s experte motion was subsequently granted by the Court on May 27, 2019 when the hearing of the anti-corruption body’s application came up.
Meanwhile, the Ministry, in its preliminary hearing objection filed in ENetSuD’s suit number FHC/IL/CS/28/2019 claimed that the ministry could not sue and be sued, thus requesting the court to dismiss ENetSuD’s suit.
The ministry also argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit instituted by ENetSuD.
But, in the counter-affidavit from ENetSuD’s counsel (Lukman Raji, Esq), ENetSuD, noted that FMARD was one of the Federal Government’s institutions that could sue and be sued in the eye of the law, thus praying to the court to dismiss the preliminary objection of the ministry.
However, the group noted that in a recent development, the ministry had now provided the information requested “as a sign that the FMARD doesn’t want the litigation to continue.”
The statement added, “The Ministry provided the information through its Counsel, Odoeme N.V, Esq. ENetSuD lists the projects that led to the litigation as Sheikh Agbarigidoma – Oloje road, Ilorin; Ero-Omo – Kilanko road, Ilorin; Solar boreholes in Ilorin; 348 Solar streetlights across Kwara central; 2 km road in Asa / Ilorin West Federal Constituency; 125 street lights at Omu-Aran; and 300 KVA transformer at Olorunkuise area in Offa.
“The provision of the requested information to ENetSuD after 3 years of the legal battle is a victory for ENetSuD and Kwarans who rely on ENetSuD to have access to information on how public funds are spent.”