The Federal High Court presided over by the Chief Judge of the court, Justice John Tsoho has dismissed a suit filed by Hon. Emmanuel Agonsi seeking some reliefs against the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.

Marked as Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/33/2021, the Code of Conduct Bureau and Yakubu were named as 1st and 2nd respondents respectively.

Brought pursuant to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2011, the applicant sought a declaration that the CCB has a statutory duty to furnish the applicant with information concerning Yakubu’s assets declaration while he was the Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) between 2007 and 2012.

The applicant also sought details of asset declaration made by Yakubu during his first term in office as INEC Chairman between 2015 and 2020, and a written declaration of all properties, assets and liabilities of his unmarried adult children submitted for the same period.

The suit also sought any other information available to the CCB showing whether or not there has been any corresponding addition or progression of properties, assets and liabilities of Yakubu and his unmarried adult children from 2007 till date.

However, the INEC Chairman had through his Lead Counsel, Chief Emeka Obegolu SAN filed a Notice of Preliminary Objection urging the court to dismiss the suit. He argued that the information sought by the applicant contains personal information belonging solely to Yakubu.

Ruling on the application, the court upheld Obegolu’s submission. It held that by virtue of Section 14 of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, a public institution must deny an application for information that contains personal information of a public officer.

Justice Tsoho also held that the grounds for which a public institution would release the personal information of a public officer to any citizen is on the basis of consent by the public officer, adding that in the absence of such consent, the Code of Conduct Bureau is not under a duty to disclose such personal information.

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