Lagos – Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer, has criticised the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for allegedly rejecting a request to provide information on the amount of money spent on petrol subsidy and turn-around maintenance of refineries.
In a statement on Sunday, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said the NNPC was wrong to reject the request made under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.
In rejecting the request, NNPC had reportedly said: “We regret to inform you that the NNPC is not in a position to provide any information or document, as your request is incongruous with, unsupported by or outside the scope and purview of the Freedom of Information Act. Be informed that the FOI Act is not applicable to the NNPC because it is not a public institution within the meaning of Section 31 of FOIA.”
But Falana argued that the fact that the National Assembly appropriates the NNPC’s budget makes it a public institution.
He said: “Contrary to the untenable contention of the counsel, the NNPC is a public institution, as the Federal Government has controlling interest in it and it is utilising public funds to provide public services.
“Indeed, because the NNPC is a public institution, its budget is appropriated by the National Assembly while its accounts are audited by auditors appointed by the Auditor- General of the Federation (AuGF) in line with section 85 of the Constitution.
“The NNPC board reports to President (Muhammadu) Buhari in his capacity as the head of the Federal Government, while the NNPC management reports to him as the Minister of the Petroleum Resources. It is therefore preposterous to say that the corporation is not a public institution.”
He clarified that under the FOI Act, public institutions meant all authorities whether executive, legislative or judicial agencies, ministries and extra-ministerial departments of government, together with all corporations established by law and all companies in which government has a controlling interest, and private companies utilising public funds, providing public services or performing public functions.
He argued that the reason given by the NNPC was misleading, adding: “The erroneous submission that the NNPC is not a public institution is embarrassing.
“It was on the basis of the commitment of the NNPC to ensure that its activities and operations live up to public scrutiny, when you recently informed a bewildered nation that the NNPC had spent $5.8 billion for the importation of fuel in just two months of this year and that N744 million is incurred daily as fuel subsidy.”
The post Falana Kicks As NNPC Refuses To Reveal Amount Spent On Subsidy, Refineries appeared first on Independent Newspapers Nigeria.
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Author: Sodiq Adekunle