LAGOS, Nigeria – The State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Friday, replied a legal practitioner, Inibehe Effiong, on his Freedom of Information application.
In a letter signed by a lawyer, Deyemi Bamgbose, for the Attorney General, the governor said that he cannot grant the request because the FOI Act is not binding on Lagos.
The governor cited a ruling of the Edo Division of the Court of Appeal in EDOSACA V OSAKUE to back his decision.
Effiong had asked for the Certified True Copy of the Instrument setting up the Lagos Panel of Inquiry.
The panel is probing rights abuses perpetrated by operatives of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and the Lekki shooting by Nigerian Army troops.
In a statement, Effiong recalled that he also requested the CTC of the Instrument, Executive Order or Directive under which curfew was imposed on the State on 20th October.
He noted further that his FOI application contained a demand for CCTV records showing the attack on protesters at the Lekki toll gate.
The fiery lawyer said by virtue of Section 1 of the Tribunals of Inquiry Law of Lagos State, the panel can only be created by an Instrument, not by a press release or declaration in the media.
“Without this Instrument, the Panel is illegal. Only an Instrument can legalize their proceedings. The inescapable implication is that except there is an legal Instrument as required by law, we are wasting our time with the ongoing inquiry. The members of the Panel, protesters and the public deserves clarification from the governor on this issue. This is a fundamental issue.
“It is also important for us to see the Instrument under which the curfew was declared. Given the conflicting accounts by the state government, the military and other interested parties, it is essential for the Instrument by which the curfew was imposed to be made public. The governor has refused to release the CCTV records to me.”
“In Alo V Speaker, Ondo State House of Assembly & Anor (2018), the Ondo Division of the Court of Appeal held that the FOI Act is binding on States. The issue here is not the conflicting decisions of the Court of Appeal. The issue is the governor’s questionable commitment to a credible investigation by the Panel of Inquiry.”
Effiong quipped that if Sanwo-Olu is sincere, why has he refused to release the Instruments if they actually exist.
He added that he will review the development and take the appropriate action.
“Those who lost their lives and those whose properties were destroyed deserves justice. We will be dishonouring them if we do not unravel the truth. Governor Sanwo-Olu should release the Instruments”, Effiong implored.