by crossriverwatch admin
A Human Rights Activist and Legal Practitioner, Barrister Okoi Obono Obla has written to the Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, Rt. Honorable Larry Okori Odey demanding information concerning the recent trip of the Assembly members to the United States of America.
CrossRiverWatch had reported last week that the state lawmakers led by the Speaker are currently junketing across cities in the United States for lessons on American farming.
The legislators were said to have visited Atlanta, Chicago and the U.S Capitol, in Washington, DC.
The fun-seeking lawmakers also visited the Fort Valley State University, where they requested to learn the American way of farming. The four hour tour of the university afforded the lawmakers the opportunity to listen to a presentation about the role and impact of the Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education (SARE) program of the university.
Reliable sources informed CrossRiverWatch that the trip was costing the State about N100 million while the state is still pleading the case of lean resources, owing to the loss of their revenue generating oil wells to neighboring Akwa Ibom State.
While responding to inquiries, James Hill, Fort Valley State University’s 1890 land-grant liaison for the SARE program, said: “The Nigerian political officials were in search for methods to improve food production, and are seeking solutions from Fort Valley State University”.
He added that the purpose of the visit is to expose the Cross Rivers State officials to the SARE program, a U.S. Department of Agriculture funded program that offers grants and provides education.
But in the request to the Speaker brought under section 1, 2, 3, and 5 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 Barrister the rights activist said: “I do hereby give you Notice in your capacity as the Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, that within seven (7) days of the receipt of this application, you are obligated to allow me access to information concerning the recent trip of members of the Cross River State House of Assembly to the United States of America for the purpose of the study of American farming.”
The request further reads: “For the purpose of clarity and emphasis, you are respectfully requested to furnish me with the following information thus:
“i. What was the essence of the said trip to the United States of America by the members of the Cross
River State House of Assembly?
“ii. Is the trip to the United States of America to study American farming consonance with the
constitutional jurisdiction of the Cross River State House of Assembly as spelt out in section &
7 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered and amended?
“iii. How many Members of the Cross River State House of Assembly made the trip to the United States of
“iv. The names of the members of the Cross River State House of Assembly who made the trip to the United
States of America
“v. How much was given to each Member of the House of Assembly that made the trip?
“vi. What was the total budget for the trip?
“vii. What is the source of the money used for the trip?
“viii. Is the studying of farming in the United States of America within the purview of the oversight
jurisdiction of the Cross River State House of Assembly?
“ix. Which cities in the United States of America did the members of the Cross River State House of Assembly
“x. How long was the trip?
“xi. Receipts of air tickets to and back of members of the Cross River State House of Assembly?
“xii. The receipts for the hotel accommodation of members while in the United States of America.”
Barrister Obla also threatened to drag the Speaker to court if his request is not obliged. “Take further Notice that you have seven (7) days from the date of receipt of this application or request to comply; failing which I shall be constrained to file an application for judicial review in the High Court of Justice seeking for an Order of Mandamus compelling you to release to me the information requested.
“Take further Notice that under Section 7 (5) of the Freedom of Information Act where a case of wrongful denial of access is established, the defaulting officer or institution commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a fine of N500, 000”. The request concluded.
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