A Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist, Mr. Inibehe Effiong, has filed a lawsuit against the Commissioner for Education of Akwa Ibom State seeking the leave of the court to compel the Commissioner to furnish him with information and records on funding for public education in the State.
The request is for the eight years dispensation of former governor Godswill Akpabio and under the three years of the present governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel.
The case which was filed on Thursday 19th July, 2018 at the High Court of Akwa Ibom State in Uyo with Suit No. HU/MISC/316/2018 is brought pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, 2011, the High Court of Akwa Ibom State (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2009 and under the Inherent Jurisdiction of the Court.
In a Motion Ex Parte, Effiong who is the Applicant is seeking an order of the Court granting him leave to apply for judicial review by way of Mandamus to direct and compel the State Commissioner for Education who is the Respondent to furnish him with information and records on capital expenditure, contracts and projects awarded for public primary and secondary schools in Akwa Ibom State; the number of teachers recruited and the number of pupils in Akwa Ibom State from May 29, 2007 to June 1, 2018.
In a 15 paragraph affidavit in support of the application for leave, Mr. Effiong stated among others; that he had made a Freedom of Information request to the Commissioner for Education by a letter dated June 14, 2018 requesting for the information and records following a mind boggling investigative reports published by online Newspaper, Premium Times, chronicling the total collapse of public education in Akwa Ibom State.
The rights activist also stated that he attended public primary and secondary schools in Akwa Ibom State and also graduated from the University of Uyo and that as a public interest campaigner, he is deeply troubled by the embarrassing sights of decayed infrastructures in public primary and secondary schools in the oil-rich State as revealed by Premium Times which prompted him to write to the Commissioner for Education seeking information and records on funding for public education in Akwa Ibom State.
Effiong also disclosed in his affidavit that the Commissioner for Education refused, failed or neglected to furnish him with the information and records sought within seven days as required by the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 which has made him to file the lawsuit to seek the permission of the Court to commence judicial review by way mandamus to compel the Commissioner for Education to furnish him with information the and records he is seeking.
Recently, a Magistrate Court in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State discharged and acquitted three members of the association of Next-of-Kin of Late Primary School Teachers in Akwa Ibom State 1991 – date who were arrested and prosecuted by the Nigeria Police Force for protesting in front of the Government House in Uyo over the non-payment of their entitlements by the government. The three members were represented pro bono in court by Mr. Effiong’s law firm throughout the duration of the trial.
The motion is also supported by several Exhibits, a statement, verifying affidavit, certificate of authentication of computer generated documents and a written address.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the case.