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Lockdown: Court orders minister to provide details of N535.8m school feeding spending



Federal High Court Lagos

A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered Dr Betta Edu, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, to reveal how N535.8 million was spent on school children’s meals during the COVID-19 lockdown.

In a judgment, Justice Nkeonye Maha directed the minister and the Ministry to provide portions of the requested information to a civil society group in accordance with Section 25(1) of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011.

Justice Maha ruled that the minister’s failure to answer to the group’s letter dated August 6, 2020, or even provide a justification for the refusal to respond to the request as required by the FOI Act, violated Sections 4(a) and (b) of the Act.

“In view of all the matters before me and flowing from the objectives of the FOI Act 2011, the court hereby orders the 1st and 2nd defendants, in line with Section 25(1) of the FOI Act, to furnish the plaintiff with the information sought in Reliefs 3(a), (b), (c), (d),” she declared.

The judge further ordered the minister to comply with the court’s directions within 21 days of receiving them.

She, however, refused to award the plaintiff’s “Reliefs 3(e), (f), and (g).”

Following the alleged unwillingness of the then-Minister, Hajia Sadiya Umar-Farouq, and her ministry to respond to the information sought, the Incorporated Trustees of Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International filed the lawsuit numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/1162/2020.

Umar-Farouq was a minister in Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.