CASE TITLE: REGISTERED TRUSTEE OF UNEMPLOYED YOUTHS INITIATIVE v. CCB & ANOR (2023) LPELR-60083(CA)
JUDGMENT DATE: 16TH MARCH, 2023
PRACTICE AREA: PUBLIC OFFICE
LEAD JUDGMENT: TUNDE OYEBANJI AWOTOYE, J.C.A.
SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:
This appeal borders on public availability/accessibility of declaration of assets form of public officers.
This appeal was in respect of the cross-appeal filed by the Plaintiff against the ruling of Federal High Court Benin Judicial Division Holding at Benin City delivered on 4/11/2016.
The Plaintiff by way of Originating Summons sought the determination of the following questions:
1. Whether by Sections 6(6)(a) and (b), 251(1) (p)(q) and (r) paragraph 3 (a)(b)(c) and (d) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act 2004 and Section 7 (1)(p)(q)(r) of the Federal High Court Act of 2009, the Federal High Court has jurisdiction over the administration, control and management of records of public officers in the custody of the defendants.
2. Whether having regard to the provisions of Section 9(2) of Freedom of Information Act 2011 and Section 3 (a)(b)(c) and (d) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act 2004, Defendants is under any legal obligation to make public the assets declared by a public officer.
3. Whether the Plaintiff has locus standi in this suit.
It therefore sought the following reliefs:
1. DECLARATION that by the provisions of Section 251 (1) (p)(q) and (r) of the 1999 Constitution and Section 7(1) (p)(q) and (r) of the Federal High Court Act of 2009, the Federal High Court has the power to adjudicate on issues connected with the administration, control and management of records of public officers in the custody of the defendants.
2. DECLARATION that then 1st Defendant’s register of officials’ declarations must be made public on request by any person or group of persons immediately after a public official take oath of office.
3. DECLARATION that third party can access private information of public officers in public custody.
4. AN ORDER OF PERPETUAL INJUNCTION restraining the Defendants from barring access to assets declaration of public officers in Nigeria forthwith.
In spite of having been served all necessary processes, the Defendants at the trial Court filed no process in response.
In his ruling, the learned trial Judge struck out the case for lack of jurisdiction. Dissatisfied, the Appellant appealed.
The Court determined the appeal on the following issues, viz:
1. Whether in the circumstance of this case the locus standi of the appellant has been established.
2. Whether by combined interpretation of Section 2(4) of Freedom of Information Act 2011 and section 3 (a) & (c) of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act 2004 assets declaration of public officers should be publicly available.
3. Whether the appropriate thing to do in the circumstance of this case is to hear the case as whole or order a rehearing.
In the final analysis, the appeal succeeded in part. The judgment of the trial Court was set aside and in its place, the claim of the claimant was held to lack merit and dismissed.
- ACTION – LOCUS STANDI: Meaning and nature of locus standi
- APPEAL – NOTICE(S) OF APPEAL: Time within which to file notice of appeal
- EVIDENCE – BURDEN OF PROOF/ONUS OF PROOF: On whom lies the burden to prove locus standi; how same is discharged in an action commenced by originating summons
- PUBLIC OFFICER – PUBLIC OFFICERS: Whether assets declaration of public officers should be publicly available
- PUBLIC OFFICER – PUBLIC OFFICERS: Whether an unauthorized member of the public can verify the assets declaration form of public officers; meaning of verification