Tinubu Tells US Court ‘Freedom Of Information Act’ Is To Expose Govt Activities, Not Individuals’ Records

The United States government will give its position on Monday (today) regarding the motion filed by President Bola Tinubu to intervene in an emergency motion filed on Friday at the US District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking the release of records related to his residence in the country.

An IT consultant, Aaron Greenspan on July 21, 2022, filed a Freedom of Information request asking the country’s agencies to release Tinubu’s records. Greenspan filed an emergency motion on Friday, October 20, seeking the immediate release of the records.

Tinubu argued that the “FOIA’s (Freedom of Information Act) purpose is to provide access to government activities, not as means to obtain records of individuals compiled by the government”.

The defendants in the suit are the Executive Office for US Attorneys, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), US Department of State, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), US Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service and the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

Tinubu subsequently filed a motion to intervene or be an intervenor in the case.

He had filed an application before the court to stop the country’s agencies from releasing records related to his residence in the country.

The motion to intervene in the case between Aaron Greenspan (Plaintiff) and Executive Office for US Attorneys, et al. (Defendants) with Civil Action No. 23-1816 (BAH), reads, “Bola A. Tinubu moves, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24, to intervene in this action because Plaintiff seeks production of Mr. Tinubu’s confidential tax record, which the Internal Revenue Service is prohibited from disclosing by federal law, and documents from federal law enforcement agencies that fall within the Privacy Act or exceptions to FOIA and should not be disclosed.

“Mr. Tinubu should be allowed to intervene because he has a direct interest in the records sought, his interests are not fully represented or protected by Defendants, and his interests will be adversely affected if he is not permitted to intervene.

Plaintiff Greenspan has indicated that he will oppose this motion. Mr. Tinubu’s counsel reached out to the government on October 21 seeking the government’s position. The government asked for additional information and responded that it would give its position by the evening of October 23.

“Because Plaintiff filed an emergency motion on October 20, Mr. Tinubu filed his motion prior to receiving the government’s position.”

The argument reads in part, “Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a) provides for intervention as of right, on timely application, by anyone ‘who … claims an interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action, and is so situated that disposing of the action may as a practical matter impede the movant’s ability to protect its interest unless the existing parties adequately represent that interest.’

“Intervenor must meet four requirements to intervene as of right ‘1) the motion for intervention must be timely; (2) intervenors must have an interest in the subject of the action; (3) their interest must be impaired or impeded as a practical matter absent intervention; and (4) the would-be intervenor’s interest must not be adequately represented by any other party.’”

It noted that the “four requirements for intervention as of right are met here…”

It says, “Wherefore, Tinubu requests that the Court grant this motion and such other and further relief as deemed appropriate under the circumstances.”

The argument reads, “Committee for Freedom of Press, 489 US.749, 753 (1989). M addition, the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C.S. 552a, contains limitations on disclosure of records gathered by government officials. See, e.g., 5 US.C. §552a(b) (“No agency shall disclose any record which is contained in a system of records … except pursuant to a written request by, or with the prior written consent of the individual to whom the record pertains”, Intervenor has protectable interest in the material that is the subject matter of this action.

“Intervenor also has a protectable interest and intervention is appropriate here because Defendants appear to be producing records about Intervenor, not about Defendants’ activities.

“As the Supreme Court explained in Reporters Committee for Freedom of Press, FOIA’s purpose is to provide access to government activities, not as means to obtain records of individuals compiled by the government. 489 U.S. at 795-97 (“FOIA, central purpose is to ensure that the Government’s activities be opened to the sharp eye of public scrutiny, not that information about private citizens that happens to be in the warehouse of the Government be so disclosed.”).

“Intervenor has a heightened interest, and the government a lesser to non-existent interest, in requests seeking information that the government may have collected about him.”

Sahara Reporters