October 6, 2020

Ubani, Nwokwu seek information under FOI Act from Amaechi on $1.9b railway project


Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi

By Henry Ojelu

Former 2nd Vice-President of Nigeria Bar Association, Mr. Monday Ubani and Lagos lawyer, John Nwokwu have demanded for details of the proposed Kano-Niger Republic rail project from the Ministry of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi through the Freedom of Information Act.

In an FOI request dated September 29, 2020 and addressed to the Minister of Transportation, 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 the generation of the fund for the contract.

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:

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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 contract.

“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.

The two Nigerian lawyers are very hopeful that the Transport Minister will respond timously to their patriotic request. In a telephone chat, Mr Ubani opined that he will feel personally sad if Amaechi fails, refuses and or neglects to respond to the request. However he is of the strong opinion that the judiciary will ever live up to expectation by compelling him, should he fail to respond.