Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre), leading anti-corruption non-governmental organization has secured the approval of the Federal High Court to proceed in a freedom of Information case againt the Central Bank of Nigeria.
HEDA is a non-partisan human rights and development league with the mandate to protect and promote universally recognized human rights, accountability and environmental justice in Nigeria and Africa, in accordance with international standards.
It was reported by section of the media, published on 4th day of September 2018, wherein it was relayed that the Central Bank of Nigeria sometimes in 2018 revealed that MTN Nigeria illegally repatriated foreign exchange of about $8.13 Billion with irregularly issued Certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs) by some commercial banks namely; Standard Chartered Bank, Citibank, Diamond Bank, and Stanbic IBTC bank and also converted its shareholders’ loan to Preference shares without fulfilling the requisite conditions.
The Nigeria Lawyer Online on the 24th day of December 2018 reported that the alleged charge of improper repatriation leveled against MTN Nigeria was resolved to the tune of $52.6 Million as against $8.13 Billion earlier reported as the fine to be paid by the telecommunication company.
The reports on the alleged resolution prompted HEDA to invoke the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 to demand, by way of a freedom of information request dated the 7th January 2019 to the Governor of Central bank of Nigeria, the records and details of the resolution on the charges of improper repatriation of funds reached by MTN Nigeria and Central Bank of Nigeria. HEDA’s request was brought pursuant to the provisions of Section 2, 3, and 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
The Central Bank of Nigeria responded to the request but failed to supply the requested information. HEDA, sequel to the provision of Section 20 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 filed an originating motion by way of motion exparte at the Federal High Court Abuja on the 2nd July 2019 seeking leave to apply for an order of mandamus compelling the office of the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria to supply the detailed information on the alleged resolution between Central Bank of Nigeria and MTN Nigeria on the charges of improper repatriation of funds.
After several adjournments, on Wednesday, 19th February 2020, HEDA’s motion was moved before Honorable Justice Chikiere, sitting at Court 3 of the Federal High Court Abuja. The Honourable justice granted the Applicant’s motion exparte dated the 2nd July 2019 seeking HEDA’s leave to file a motion on notice in which Respondent will be served with the motion. The court adjourned the matter till Wednesday, 16th May 2020 for the hearing of Applicant’s Motion on Notice for Judicial Review.
The contract and agreement between the telecommunication company and Centra Bank of Nigeria has remained shrewed in secrecy and contents and conditions known only to actiors in the negotiations and their few lawyers to date.