COURTROOM NEWS 04/02/2022
Ondo N4.3bn Secret Account: Court Dismisses Group’s Information Request
An Ondo State High Court sitting in Akure, the state capital, yesterday dismissed a legal action against the Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, Bamidele Oleyelogun, and the state’s Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Wale Akinterinwa, over their failure to respond to a Freedom of Information request on the discovery of N4.3billion allegedly kept in a bank account for 10 years.
A civil society group, Upline Centre for Development had on January 18, 2022, through its Counsel, Olu Ogidan, instituted the legal action.
The state government had in 2020 announced the discovery of N4.3 billion secretly kept in a bank account for 10 years. The State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo, had said the account domiciled in a third-generation bank was uncovered by the Commissioner for Finance.
The group subsequently wrote the Speaker and commissioner to provide evidence of appropriation of the money for spending by government and report of the committee set up by the House of Assembly to investigate the expenditure of the principal sum of N4.3billion.
The group prayed the court for an order of mandamus compelling the speaker to make available information on evidence of appropriation of N4,300,000,000.00 for spending by government and report of the committee set up by the House of Assembly.
In his ruling, the presiding Judge, Justice Olusegun Odusola said: “By the provision of order 23 of the Ondo State High Court sitting procedure (2019), which provides that no allegation for judicial review shall be granted except leave of order have been obtained in accordance with the rule.”
He added: “The order being sought in the motion paper is devoid of prayer asking for leave and in the circumstance, the application is incompetent and should be dismissed.”
Reacting, the counsel to the applicant, Olu Ogidan said he will consult with his client, find another way out it and take the necessary step.
“The truth of the matter is that this same application was also granted by this court in the earlier case we took to court in 2016. It was argued even up to the Court of Appeal. So, we felt we should follow in the extant case but unfortunately, the court did not see it the way we have presented it,” he said.
He explained that his client is seeking an order of mandamus ordering the 1st respondent to make available to the applicant information on evidence of expenditure by Ondo state government the sum of N4.3billion domiciled with the bank and duly appropriated by the State House of Assembly.