The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Thursday denied Mr. Femi Falana’s, (SAN) request through the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, for disclosure of the corporation’s past business transactions in the oil and gas sector.
In its response to FoI requests sent to it by Messrs Falana & Falana’s Chambers on January 8 and February 20, 2018, seeking information on the total revenue it made from the sale of the 445,000 barrels of oil per day domestic allocation it gets from the federation from June 2015 and December 2017, including how much money it has expended in petrol subsidy in Nigeria so far, the corporation declined meeting the request of the law firm.
Also, the nation’s oil industry regulator refused to disclose the quantity of crude oil it refined locally from June 2015 and December 2017 to the law chamber, disclosure of the cost of repairs done on the Warri, Kaduna, and Port Harcourt refineries, including the quantity of crude oil it sent to the Ivory Coast for refining within the periods under consideration. According to Thisday newspaper it saw a copy of the letter dated March 1, and signed by NNPC’s General Manager, Litigation, Arbitration and Law, Mrs. Sarah Ndukwu, in Abuja.
In it, the corporation said the FOI was not applicable to it and so it could not provide the information the chambers wanted. According to it, it was not a public institution covered by the FoI as prescribed by Section 31 of the same FoI Act. NNPC explained to the chambers that as a statutory corporation, it was established for the sole purpose of managing Nigeria’s commercial interests in her oil and gas sector, as well as conducting trade in that respect. It said it was not public institution which the Act covers, hence, its exemption from the FoI.
It also noted that even if the FoI applied to it, the information sought by the chambers was excluded from the purview of the Act, adding that the information was in the nature of commercial, financial and trade secrets which are either subject to non-disclosure agreements or could interfere with its existing contractual obligations to its partners.
NNPC explained in the letter that the information sought by the chambers was also not in the interest of the Nigerian public, and so it would not disclose them. It however stated that it was a law abiding firm, and that two previous court cases filed with regards to its denial of FoI requests to a firm were struck out in its favour in December 2013.