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DECIDING WHETHER A CLAIMANT HAS LOCUS STANDI

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Having held as above, what is the position of the law on the issue of locus standi? In law, deciding whether a Claimant has the requisite locus standi is a function of whether the claim he makes has disclosed his sufficient interest in the subject matter and to determine this it is the averments of the Claimant in his pleadings that the Court has to look at and critically examine to see if it discloses his interest sufficient enough to clothe him with the requisite locus standi to sue.

— B.A. Georgewill JCA. Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc V. Longterm Global Capital Limited & Ors. (CA/L/427/2016, 9 Mar 2018)

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RESTRICTIVE RULES ON STANDING ARE INIMICAL TO A HEALTHY JUDICIAL SYSTEM (India)

The Supreme Court of India in Fertilizer Corporation Kamager Union v Union of India (1981) AIR (SC) 344, succinctly captured the modern Jurisprudence on locus standi as follows: “Restrictive rules about standing are in general inimical to a healthy system of growth of administrative law, if a Plaintiff with a good cause is turned away merely because he is not sufficiently affected personally, that could mean that some government agency is left free to violate the law. Such a situation would be extremely unhealthy and contrary to the public interest. Litigants are unlikely to spend their time and money unless they have some real interest at stake and in some cases where they wish to sue merely out of public spirit, to discourage them and thwart their good intentions would be most frustrating and completely demoralizing”. [This case was relied on in Abdullahi & Ors. v Government of Federal Republic of Nigeria & Ors. (ECW/CCJ/JUD/18/16) [2016] ECOWASCJ 55]

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AN INDIVIDUAL CAN BRING AN ACTION ON BEHALF OF A CLOSE RELATIVE – (ECOWAS Court)

An individual can bring an action on behalf of another only when Applicant is a close relation of a victim of violation of human rights. Following from the above, the Court holds that another teleological interpretation is that individuals who are not direct victims can ground an action before the Court if they are relation of the direct victim of violation of human rights. — The Registered Trustees of Jama’a FOUNDATION v FRN ECW/CCJ/JUD/04/20 para. 66

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LACK OF LOCUS STANDI ROBS COURT OF JURISDICTION; WHETHER A PERSON HAS LOCUS STANDI

Lack of locus standi on the part of the Plaintiff in a suit is a feature that robs any court of jurisdiction to entertain the suit before it. In order to have locus standito sue in an action, a Plaintiff must show, to the satisfaction of the court, that his civil rights and obligations have been or are in danger of being infringed. He must show that there is a nexus between his suit and the conduct of the Defendant(s). A Plaintiff must show sufficient connection to, and harm or potential harm or damage from the action complained of. It has been held that the tests for determining whether a person has locus to institute an action are that: (a) The action must be justiciable; and (b) There must be a dispute between the parties. See ANOZIA V. A.-G., LAGOS STATE (2023) 2 NWLR (PT. 1869) 545; BARBUS AND CO. (NIG.) LTD. V. OKAFOR UDEJI (2018) 11 NWLR (PT. 1630) 298; B.B. APUGO & SONS LTD VS. O.H.M.B. (2016) 13 NWLR (PT. 1529) 206.

— A. Jauro, JSC. PDP v INEC (2023) – SC/CV/501/2023

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STATEMENT OF CLAIM HAS TO BE SCRUTINIZED TO DETERMINE LOCUS STANDI

It cannot be disputed that the question whether or not a plaintiff has a locus standi in a suit is determinable from a totality of all the averments in his statement of claim. In dealing with the locus standi of a plaintiff, it is his statement of claim alone that has to be carefully scrutinized with a view to ascertaining whether or not it has disclosed his interest and how such interest has arisen in the subject-matter of the action. Where the averments in a plaintiffs statement of claim disclose the rights or interests of the plaintiff which have been or are in danger or being violated, invaded or adversely affected by the act of the defendant complained of, such a plaintiff would be deemed to have shown sufficient interest to give him the locus standi to litigate over the subject-matter in issue.

– Abba Aji JSC. CITEC v. Francis (2021) – SC.720/2017

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COURT HAS NO JURISDICTION WHERE LOCUS STANDI IS LACKING

Locus standi connotes the legal capacity to institute an action in a Court of law. It is a threshold issue that affects the jurisdiction of the Court to look into the complaint. Where the claimant lacks the legal capacity to institute the action, the Court, in turn will lack the capacity to adjudicate. In order to have locus standi, the claimant must have sufficient interest in the suit. For instance, it must be evident that the claimant would suffer some injury or hardship or would gain some personal benefit from the litigation.

– Kekere-Ekun JSC. CITEC v. Francis (2021) – SC.720/2017

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INDIVIDUAL PLAINTIFF MUST SHOW MANDATE TO ACT ON BEHALF OF PEOPLE; NGO HAS WIDE ACCESS

Para. 16: “For the Plaintiffs to access the court for and on behalf of the people of Niger Delta, they need the mandate upon which they act and when questioned must establish consent of the people or a justification for acting without such consent. This is different where the Application is brought by an NGO. While the NGO’s enjoy a wide range of access to Court on behalf of individuals, the individuals on the other hand have access mainly in their personal capacity on alleged human rights violations and approaching the Court in a representative capacity requires authorization.”

— Osaghae v Nigeria (2017) – ECW/CCJ/JUD/03/17

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