Federal High Court Directs NPC to Disclose Expenses in Suspended Census

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Federal High Court Verdict: NPC to Reveal Details of Expenses on Aborted Census

In a recent development, a Federal High Court in Abuja has issued an order compelling the to disclose detailed expenditure information related to the suspended 2023 Population Census within the next seven days.

Originally slated for 2022, the census faced a delay, with former President Muhammadu Buhari indefinitely suspending the exercise just before leaving office. The responsibility of announcing new dates was deferred to President , and now the census is rescheduled for November 2024.

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Earlier, in June 2023, the NPC had declared an expenditure of N200 billion for the preparation of the postponed census. However, Abuja-based lawyer Opatola Victor took legal action after the NPC denied his request for expenditure details through a Freedom of Information Act filing.

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In the case marked FHC/ABJ/CS/503/2023, Victor argued that the NPC’s refusal breached his rights under Section 4 of the FOI Act 2012. He sought an order of mandamus compelling the NPC to provide the spending records and requested a compensation of N500,000 for the violation of his rights.

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Justice Inyang Ekwo, in delivering the judgment, dismissed the NPC’s claims of bureaucratic challenges and the executive chairman’s absence as reasons for withholding information.

The judge also rejected the NPC’s assertion that certain information was classified, emphasizing that, based on the definition of classified information, there was no secrecy involved.

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Consequently, Justice Ekwo ruled the NPC’s refusal to release the requested information as wrongful, illegal, and unconstitutional. He ordered the NPC to provide comprehensive and detailed information concerning the Quality Test Assurance Report on the devices and technology intended for the postponed 2023 population census.

However, the judge declined to award the requested N500,000 in favor of the plaintiff, as stated in the lawsuit.

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