Ozekhome, MRA Say Lai Mohammed’s N13m Loan is Illegal
Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome and the Executive Director of Media Right Agenda, Edetaen Ojo have described the memo emanating from the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for a loan request to embark on a foreign trip as illegal and unlawful.
Citing the minister’s action as a violation of the provisions of the law of budgetary appropriation and that of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), they maintained that since NBC ought not to have any fund to lend to anybody, it is not a financial institution.
The Federal Ministry of Information and Culture has however defended the request for N13m loan, saying the loan was to enable a five-member delegation led by the Minister to embark on a trip to Beijing, China on national assignment.
However, as the minister and his ministry continue attempts to unravel the officer within the ministry or National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) who leaked the memo, MRA has threatened to lodge complaint against the minister with relevant international agencies.
MRA said its resolve is backed by the realisation that the whistle-blower is protected under section 27 of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, especially if the minister tries to punish the public officer who leaked the information, whether now or in the near future.
It would be recalled that an online medium had during the week published a memo sent on behalf of the minister to the NBC requesting for N13m loan to finance a foreign trip that is not directly linked to the parastatal.
Although the online platform quoted the minister as saying that he owes nobody any explanation about the loan request, Nigerians are demanding explanation as the NBC is not a money lending organisation or a bank and, especially in the light of the anti-corruption crusade.
Apparently embarrassed by the development, it was gathered that attempts are being made to make scapegoats of those who leaked the letter, with some personnel of the ministry and that of the National Broadcasting Commission already quizzed.
Ojo noted that the minister appears overly concerned that the information was made public and takes the view that the public has no right to know about the expenditure and transaction, regardless of the existence of the Freedom of Information Act, particularly Section 2(3)(V) that requires every public institution to proactively publish ‘information relating to the receipt or expenditure of public or other funds of the institution’.