Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari does not have to reveal the cost of his treatment for an undisclosed illness that incapacitated him for several months, a judge ruled on Tuesday.
Buhari, 75, spent a large part of last year in London but the exact nature of his condition remains a mystery. He has said only that it involved multiple blood transfusions and tests.
His absence from the helm of Africa’s most populous nation prompted speculation about his fitness to govern — as well as whether Nigerian taxpayers footed his private medical bill.
Civil society group the Advocacy for Societal Rights Advancement and Development Initiative made a freedom of information request to the Central Bank of Nigeria for details.
When the request was denied, trustees took the CBN and its governor Godwin Emefiele to court.
Judge John Tsoho said the Freedom of Information Act provided for an exemption where personal information is not publicly available and the individual has not consented.
“There is no evidence of the president having consented to disclosure of personal information relating to his health and the information is certainly not publicly available,” he said.
“I therefore hold that the information sought by the applicant… is exempt,” he told the Federal High Court in Abuja in a ruling.
“On the whole, the applicants’ suit is not sustained and it is struck out.”
The judge said the applicants should have sought the information from the office of the president’s chief of staff but he would likely have refused for the same reasons.
Representatives from the civil society group made no comment afterwards, according to an AFP reporter.
The group previously sought an injunction to stop Buhari being sworn in as president after his election victory in 2015.
Buhari is seeking a second four-year term at polls in February next year.