The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has told a human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), that it cannot provide information on the amount of money spent on petrol subsidy and turnaround maintenance of refineries.
The NNPC said this in a letter titled, ‘Re: Request for Information on Proposed Review of the Pump Price of Premium Motor Spirit’ dated March 1, 2018.
The letter was in response to an inquiry made by Falana on how much had been spent on subsidy, maintenance of refineries and sale of crude oil.
In a letter signed by the General Manager, Litigation, Arbitration and Property Law Development, Sarah Ndukwu, the corporation said the Freedom of Information Act which was evoked by Falana, did not apply in totality to the NNPC.
The letter read in part, “We regret to inform you that the NNPC is not in a position to provide any information or document as your request is incongruous with, unsupported by or outside the scope and purview of the Freedom of Information Act.
“Be informed that the FOI Act is not applicable to the NNPC because it is not a public institution within the meaning of Section 31 of FOIA.”
Quoting the section, the NNPC argued that the Act only refers to public institutions such as executive, legislative and judicial administrative or advisory bodies of government.
The statement added,
“Be informed that even if the FOIA applies to the NNPC (which is strongly denied in view of Section 31 and recent judicial authorities) the information sought by your letter is expressly excluded from the purview of the Act by virtue of Section 151(1)(a)(c) thereof.
“The requested information is in the nature of commercial, financial and trade secrets information which obviously are either subject to non-disclosure agreements or whose disclosure could reasonably interfere with NNPC’s existing contractual obligations or harm third party interests.
“In fact, by the use of the word ‘shall’ in the section, NNPC is obligated in the absence of any prior consent by relevant third parties to deny your request.”