Federal High Court Dismisses Case Against INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu
The Federal High Court, Presided over by the Chief Judge of the court has dismissed the Suit filed by Hon. Emmanuel Agonsi in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/33/2021.
The Applicant had approached the Federal High court seeking reliefs against the Code of Conduct Bureau sued as 1st Respondent and Prof. Mahmood Yakubu sued as 2nd Respondent, pursuant to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
The suit above sought the declaration that the Code of Conduct Bureau has a statutory and public duty to furnish the Applicant with information and details concerning the assets declarations of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu while he was holding public office as the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), between 2007-2012; details of assets declarations made by Prof. Mahmood Yakubu during his first term in office as the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), between 2015-2020; written declaration of all properties, assets and liabilities of the unmarried adult children of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu submitted for the period covered and any other information available to the Code of Conduct Bureau showing whether or not there has been any corresponding addition or progression of properties, assets and liabilities of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and his unmarried adult children from 2007 till date.
The 2nd Respondent filed a Notice of Preliminary Objection, a counter Affidavit and a written address settled by Chief Emeka Obegolu, SAN, in urging the court to dismiss the suit filed by the Applicant as the information sought by the Applicant contains Personal information belonging to Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.
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The court upheld the submission of the Learned Senior Counsel for the 2nd Respondent in holding that by virtue of Section 14 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011, a public institution, in this instance, the 1st Respondent (Code of Conduct Bureau) must deny an application for information that contains personal information of a public officer and further held that the grounds for which a public Institution would release personal information of a public officer to any citizen is on the basis of consent by the said public officer and in the absence of the consent, the Code of Conduct is not mandated to disclose personal information of public officers and hence, the claims of the Applicant fails.
This judgment goes to preclude citizens from bringing frivolous applications seeking to have access to private and personal information and asset declaration forms of public officers for selfish reasons.