Abuja — Lagos based human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, Monday, dragged the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, before Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, praying the court to compel him to make available information on the state of health of Taraba State governor, Danbaba Suntai.
The suit came barely a week after Senator Hope Uzodinma's committee of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, succeeded in persuading the returnee governor to allow his deputy, Alhaji Umar Garba, to in the meantime, continue piloting the affairs of the state pending his full recovery.
It will be recalled that Suntai, who was absent in office for about 10 months, sequel to his involvement in a plane crash last year, recently returned from treatment abroad but was prevented by Taraba State House of Assembly from resuming duties as governor on the premise that he was yet to regain full fitness.
Though Suntai eventually succumbed to pressure from his party, PDP, to give way for his deputy to take over as an acting governor, he, however, went before a high court sitting in Jalingo to challenge the decision of Taraba State legislature.
In a motion ex-parte filed 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, Falana applied for an 'Order of Mandamus' to compel the AGF to make available information on Suntai's state of mental and physical health.
He hinged his application on grounds that going by the provision of section 1 of the FOI Act, every Nigerian citizen was entitled to access information in custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution.
He told the court that he wrote a letter to the AGF requesting him to make available the state of mental and physical health of Suntai, but without any legal justification and in flagrant disregard of the express and clear provision of the FOI Act, he (AGF) failed to accede to the request.
Falana maintained that the refusal of the AGF to provide the information amounted to gross violation of Section 3 of the FOI act.
He also prayed the court to declare that the refusal of the AGF to accede to his request dated August 27, was illegal and unconstitutional.
In a ruling, Justice E.S Chukwu granted Falana leave to seek for an Order of Mandamus against the AGF, saying he found merit in the ex-parte application.
Consequently, the court adjourned to September 16 for hearing of the suit.
Falana had on August 27, 2013, written to the AGF requesting for information on the state of health of Suntai.
The letter read in part: "Following the involvement of Governor Danbaba Suntai of Taraba State in a plane crash in Yola on October 25 2012, his Excellency arrived Nigeria on August 25, 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 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."