Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, on Monday obtained the leave of an Abuja court to apply for an Order of Mandamus to compel the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, to make available information on the health of Taraba State Governor Danbaba Suntai.
The motion was pursuant to Order 34 Rules 1 and 3 of the Federal High Court Rules, 2009, and Section 20 of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.
In the motion, Falana asked the court to grant him leave to apply for an “Order of Mandamus compelling the AGF to make available information on the state of mental and physical health of the Executive Governor of Taraba State, Danbaba Suntai.”
In a short ruling, the presiding judge, Justice Elvis Chukwu, granted the leave sought by Falana. The judge held that there was merit in the application.
Justice Chukwu thereafter adjourned the matter to September 16, 2013, for the hearing.
Also, the suit will be remitted to the Chief Judge of the Abuja FHC for re-assignment to a regular court, since Justice Chukwu is sitting as a vacation judge.
Falana in the motion also asked the court to declare that the refusal of the AGF to accede to his earlier request for information on the state of the governor’s health was illegal and unconstitutional.
He said he had forwarded the said request to the AGF through a letter dated August 27, 2013.
The said letter read in part, “Following the involvement of Governor Danbaba Suntai of Taraba State in a plane crash in Yola on the 25th day of October 2012, his Excellency arrived Nigeria on the 25th day of August, 2013 having undergone 10 months of treatment in Germany and United States of America.
“Barely a day after his return, a letter was delivered to the Taraba State House of Assembly purportedly written by the Governor, declaring his fitness and intention to resume office immediately.
“In the letter written by the Governor to the State House of Assembly, he claimed to have fully recovered from the injuries he sustained in the plane crash of 25th October, 2012 without affording the public a copy of his medical report of mental and physical fitness.
“Having confirmed that there is a medical report we hereby request for information on the mental and physical fitness of the Governor as claimed in his letter to the Taraba State House of Assembly.”
Falana noted that the AGF rejected the request without any legal justification and in flagrant disregard of the express and clear provisions of the FOI Act.
The lawyer maintained that the AGF’s refusal to accede to his request violated Section 3 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
According to him, section 1 of FOI Act stipulate that every Nigerian is entitled to access information in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution.