The controversy trailing the $1.9 Billion Nigeria-Niger rail project may not go away soon as former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Second Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani and Lagos lawyer, Mr. John Nwokwu have asked Transportation Minister, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi to provide them with details of the proposed project.
The request dated September 29, 2020 and addressed to Amaechi is coming under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI). The two lawyers stated that their demand for details of the rail project was premised on the need for transparency and accountability.
Some of the information sought by the duo include actual cost of the project, contract papers and the firm handling it, economic benefit of the project and where it is provided for in the 2020 Appropriation Act, including the source of funding for the project.
They also requested to know the details of the deliberation and approval of such fund by the National Assembly.
The FOI letter signed by Joseph Igwe Esq. reads:
“Kindly provide the information to the best of your knowledge in the interest of transparency and openness which you have been at the vanguard.
“In a public statement credited to you, you did disclose to the media the award of contract for the development of the proposed Kano to Maradi rail line in Niger Republic.
“Sir, you are hereby specifically requested to make available to our clients or grant them access to: The actual contract cost of the rail line cutting across Kano state in Nigeria through Maradi in Niger Republic and the termination of the track length.
“The awarded contract document(s), name of the firm and procedure of
the award of the contract to the preferred firm.
“The detailed information on where it is provided for in the 2020
Appropriation Act and the source of the generation of the fund for the
“The details of the deliberation and approval of such fund and rail project
by the National Assembly.
“The detailed economic benefit of the rail line project from Nigeria
through Niger Republic to the generality of the Nigerian populace.
“However, if you think that another agency of the Government has
greater interest in the information requested for, you are obliged under
Section 5 of the Freedom of Information Act 2011 to transfer this request
to the other agency within 3 days, howbeit not later than 7 days of
receiving this request.
“Our clients shall pay the necessary fees for the information. Be notified
that if you fail to provide the above information within the period
stipulated by law we shall proceed against you in accordance with the
provisions of the law.
“We have no doubt that you will accede to this request in the interest of the Nation you are serving meritoriously,” the letter concluded.
Ubani told a newspaper (not CITY LAWYER) that he would “feel personally sad if Amaechi fails, refuses or neglects to respond to the request.” He stated that he may head to court to compel Amaechi to provide the information if he fails to do so voluntarily.
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