Ekiti group drags state govt to court over Cargo Airport records

The Ekiti Patriotic Consultative Forum, a socio-political pressure group, has approached the State High Court for an order of Mandamus, compelling the state government to release to it, all documents, including financial records and loans, relating to the Ekiti Cargo Airport project.

Our State Correspondent reports that Lead solicitor to the group, Oluwagbenga Babawibe, who doubles as the Secretary to the forum, made this known in a statement, including court processes, made available to newsmen in Ado-Ekiti on Sunday.

He said the request was made, pursuant to the provisions of the Ekiti State Freedom of Information Law, 2011.

Babawibe said his law firm, Urban Attorneys & Solicitors, acting for the forum, had since Nov. 22, 2023, made the written request to the government, through the offices of Secretary to the State Government, Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, as well the State Accountant General, for the said documents, and that the receipt of the letter, was acknowledged on 11th Dec 2023 by the Accountant General’s office, but without any action.

He said when the letter was written in 2023, the group had given a seven-day ultimatum, within which the request should be accessed, and also warned then, that failure to act on it, would force the group into approaching the court to compel the government to act.

He, however, regretted that up till now, despite all the threats, no response had been received from the government, hence the decision to resort to the court, to force the government to act on the said request.

According to him, the documents being demanded include; a certified true copy of the entire contract, including information on the loans obtained for the said project, and information on all funds, disbursed on the project so far, from the treasury of the state.

He said the state government signed the said contract with the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation Limited, CCECCL.

Babawibe said the motion – exparte from the request for the order of Mandamus, was filed before the State High Court on 28th March 2024, in suit No- HAD//352m/2024, between the group and the government.

He said both the state governor, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, as well as the Accountant General of the state, are defendants in the Mandamus suit, instituted, but no date had been fixed for a hearing yet.

Also, in an affidavit, in support of the said motion exparte, Tope Kolawole, also a legal practitioner in the same law firm, the Ekiti Patriotic Consultative Forum, is comprised of highly responsible Ekiti indigenes, who are always working towards the development and growth of Ekiti.

He said the latest action by the group became necessary, for want of probity, accountability, and effective management of public funds.

He noted that the group, which has the right to know how public funds are spent, had no option but to apply for leave of the court, to file for the said order of mandamus, after all, subtle means of getting the relevant documents, failed to yield results.

Recall that It has been over two years since the Ekiti Cargo International Airport was commissioned, amidst pomp and ceremony in Ado-Ekiti.

However, some concerned groups and individuals alike in the state had been expressing worry that since its commissioning, not a single commercial aircraft had been recorded at the airport.

On October 15, 2022, about a day before his exit from office, the then outgoing governor Dr Kayode Fayemi, whose administration, initiated the project, inaugurated the airport to the excitement of the people of the state, though there were still insider reports of some critical areas that needed to be completed, hence, the continuation of works on the project by the current administration of Gov. Biodun Oyebanji, till date.

During the historic occasion of commissioning, a military aircraft, marked ATR-42, belonging to the Nigerian Air Force, touched down at the airport on the day, to the excitement of many residents.

Speaking then, the delighted Fayemi had said the commissioning of the airport project, which started in 2019, was his parting gift to the people of the state, aimed at enhancing its development and growth.


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