Court Orders FAAN To Account For Airports Toll Gate Revenue Since 2015

Court Orders FAAN To Account For Airports Toll Gate Revenue Since 2015

The Federal High Court in Lagos has issued a directive to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to account for the total annual revenue generated from toll gates and parking fees at all government-owned airports.

The court ordered FAAN to provide information on the amount remitted from January 2015 to January 2024.

Justice Ibrahim Kala, who granted the order, gave FAAN a three-month deadline to comply to the directives.

The Registered Trustees of The Centre for Law & Civil Culture, a public interest applicant, initiated the legal action after FAAN failed to respond to their freedom of information request made on August 24, 2022.

The applicant’s counsel, B.O. Fowowe, argued that this non-compliance was a clear violation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act of 2011.

The attorney also argued in court that Section 4 of the FOI Act mandates public institutions to respond to information requests within one week, while Section 20 allows applicants to seek a mandamus order if the institution fails to provide the requested information.

After receiving the legal documents, the respondent, represented by A.A. Lawal, disputed the applicant’s entitlement to their request and the relief sought.

Referencing past cases, the lawyer asserted that as a government entity, the respondent has the authority to establish and manage a fund where all fees and charges, such as federal government allocations, toll fees, and parking charges, are deposited.

The counsel also contended that according to Section 15 of the FAAN Act, the respondent is authorized to utilize the funds for administrative costs, employee salaries, payments to experts or professionals appointed by the board, maintenance of acquired property, and any other activities related to the respondent’s functions.

He maintained that the applicant’s request lacks merit and is fundamentally flawed since seeking evidence of remittance and account statements from the respondent to verify compliance with remittance requirements to the Federation Account is merely a fishing expedition.

After the hearing concluded on January 25, 2024, where both parties presented their written arguments, the court adjourned for judgment.

When the proceedings resumed on Friday, February 23, the judge granted the Applicant’s request, acknowledging that all conditions outlined in Section 20 of the FOI Act had been met.

Justice Kala said: “I shall, therefore, reach the irresistible conclusion that the lone issue for determination in this case, is, “Whether the Respondent is mandated to provide the requested information to the Applicant as provided for under the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 and the Applicant entitled to the reliefs sought in their Originating Application,” is resolved against the Respondent and in favour of the Applicant. The Applicant’s application succeeds, and it is accordingly granted as follows:

“It is hereby declared that the refusal and failure of the respondents to accede to the Applicant’s freedom of information requests dated 24/8/2021, 6/10/2021 and 22/4/2022 requesting to know the total annual generated revenue from the toll gates and parking lots in each of the Federal Government owned Airports across the Federal Republic of Nigeria since 2015 till date is a gross violation of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

“An order of mandamus is, hereby, granted compelling the Respondent to avail the Applicant with the details of the statement of the accounts showing the total annual generated revenue from the toll gates and parking lots in each of the Federal Government owned Airports across the Federal Republic of Nigeria and evidence of yearly remittance of such sum so generated per year from January 2015 to January 2024 within a period of three months from today.”

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