In response to Mr. Femi Falana’s request for documents relating to the importation of petrol and other refined products by the NNPC under the Freedom of Information Act, the state oil company has turned it down, claiming that the law that established it precludes it from one of the government’s bodies under obligation to disclose information under the FoI Act.
In a letter by one of its lawyers, O. B. Omale to Falana, NNPC claimed that it has no obligation to respond to the FoI request made by human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana(SAN), on fuel importation and sundry matters.
“Please be informed that our client does not fall within the purview of the Freedom of Information, Act, 2011.
“The provision of the Act, particularly Section 31 thereof is clear and unambiguous as to the meaning of Public Institution. Our client is neither a legislative, executive, judicial, administrative or advisory body of Government of Nigeria.
“It is a body established by law to manage the commercial interests of Nigeria in the oil and gas sector of the economy and conduct trade therein. It cannot, therefore, by any stretch of imagination be brought within the definition of Public Institution under the Act.
“This position has received judicial endorsement via the Federal High Court’s decisions in several cases, including two cases instituted by Messrs. Public & Private Developments Centre Ltd.”
Omale said documents and information requested by Falana “are expressly excluded from the purview of the Act by virtue of the provisions of Section 15( 1)( a)-( c) thereof, as they relate to trade secrets, commercial and financial information, which obviously are either subject to non-disclosure agreements or whose disclosure will likely interfere with contractual rights and obligations of third parties or harm their interests.”