The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) says it cannot honour freedom of information (FOI) requests because it is not a public corporation.

Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria, had written an FOI concerning fuel importation data.

Falana said Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state for petroleum resources, had directed the NNPC and DPR to supply him the information.

“While PEF and DPR have said that they are not in a position to address the issues raised in the letter, the NNPC group managing director, Dr Baru has refused to comply with the directive of the minister.”

In a letter written on behalf of the corporation by Omale O.B. Solicitors, it said it does not fall under the purview of the freedom of information act.

“Please be informed that our client doesn’t fall under the purview of the freedom of information (FOI) Act, 2011,” the letter by the solicitors read.

“The provision of the act particularly section 31 thereof is clear and unambiguous as to the meaning of public institution.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the section provides as follows: public institution means any legislative, executive, judicial, administrative or advisory body of the government including boards, bureau, committees, or commissions of the state and any subsidiary body of those bodies including but not limited to committees, and sub-committees which are supported in whole or in part by public funds or which expends public funds and private bodies providing public services performing public function or utilizing public funds.

“Our client is neither a legislative, executive, judicial, administrative or advisory body of government of Nigeria.

“It is a body established by the law to manage the commercial interests of Nigeria in the oil and gas sector and conduct trade therein. It cannot therefore by any stretch of imagination be brought within the definition of public institution under the act.”

O.B. Omale, who signed the letter on behalf of the firm said the NNPC has received judicial endorsements on this position in several cases.

NNPC said even if it would qualify as a public institution, the information requested for is not within the purview of the act as it involves trade secrets, non-disclosure agreement and third parties.

It said the information does not serve any public interest in its opinion and thus cannot be granted.



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