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ONLY BREACH OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS CAN BE ENFORCED THROUGH FREP

Dictum

It is trite that it is only actions founded on a breach of the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution that can be enforced under the Rules. The facts relied upon by an applicant must therefore disclose a breach of his fundamental right as the basis for his claim. Where the facts relied upon discloses a breach of the fundamental right of the Applicant as the basis of the claim, there exists a redress through the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure. Where the alleged breach of right is ancillary or incidental to the main grievance or complaint, it is incompetent to proceed under the rules. See SEA TRUCKS NIGERIA LIMITED v. ANIGBORO (2001) 2 NWLR (PT. 696) 189; WEST AFRICAN EXAMINATIONS COUNCIL v. AKINKUMI (2008) 9 NWLR (PT. 1091) 151; NWACHUKWU v. NWACHUKWU (2018) 17 NWLR (PT. 1648) 357.

— F.A. Ojo, JCA. ITDRLI v NIMC (2021) – CA/IB/291/2020

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WHAT IS LIBERTY OF THE PERSON? – (ECOWAS Court)

The General Comment No 35 of the Human Right Committee on Art 9 of the Convention on the right to liberty and security of persons (which is pari material to Art 6 of the Charter) states that as follows; . “Liberty of person concerns freedom from confinement of the body, Security of person concerns freedom from injury to the body and the mind, or bodily and mental integrity. The right to security of person protects individuals against intentional infliction of bodily or mental injury, regardless of whether the victim is detained or non-detained.”

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FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT HAS SPECIAL ENFORCEMENT PROCEDURES

Fundamental right enforcement has a special procedure enthroned under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 to facilitate the exercise of one’s right as dispensed under Chapter IV of the Constitution. The rights themselves are the basic and fundamental human rights which inhere in every human being. These rights are in place because of the elevated nature of human beings above other creatures occupying the earth.

— S.J. Adah, JCA. Udo v Robson (2018) – CA/C/302/2013

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ALLEGATION OF BREACH OF RIGHT TO LIFE DOES NOT MEAN ACTUAL LOSS OF LIFE

Para. 53: “The rights to life, health and dignity are intertwined such that a violation of one can lead to the violation of the other. It follows that the enjoyment of a healthy life is dependent on the ability to afford good medical services which in turn is dependent on the financial security sufficient for maintenance of good health. Payment of pension implicates the ability of pensioners to enjoy these guarantees. The allegation of the violation of the right to life does not necessarily entail the actual loss of life or merely physical act of breathing, neither does it connote mere animal existence or continued drudgery through life. It has a wider meaning which includes right to live with human dignity, right to livelihood, right to health and many more. Consequently, the refusal to pay retirement benefits can occasion the violation of the right to health and thus a violation of the right to life. Of course the dignity of a person is implicated if due to lack of means traceable to denial of pension, the person becomes a relic of the society falling from his/her ordinary standard in life with the likelihood of becoming a beggar.”

— Boley v Liberia & Ors. (2019) – ECW/CCJ/JUD/24/19

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ONLY FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS CAN COME THROUGH THE FUNDAMENTAL PROCEDURE RULES

It is also settled law that for an action to be properly brought under the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009, (as was done by the Applicants at the trial Court), it must relate to infringement of any of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended). See: UNIVERSITY OF ILORIN and ORS v. IDOWU OLUWADARE (2006) 14 NWLR (Pt.100) 751; ACHEBE v. NWOSU (2003) 7 NWLR (Pt. 818) 103; ADEYANJU v. WAEC (2002) 13 NWLR (Pt.785) 479; and DIRECTOR, SSS v. AGBAKOBA (1999) 3 NWLR (Pt. 595) 314. In other words, for an action to be cognizable under the fundamental rights procedure, the infringement of any of the rights under Chapter IV of CFRN, 1999 must be the primary wrong forming the basis of the claim.

— A.B. Mohammed, JCA. ITDRLI v NIMC (2021) – CA/IB/291/2020

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FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS SUIT CANNOT BE FILED JOINTLY

The earlier position of this Court is that fundamental rights accrue to citizens individually and by lumping the applications together, the Respondents rendered their application incompetent.

— J.O.K. Oyewole, JCA. Udo v Robson (2018) – CA/C/302/2013

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MERE ALLEGATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION TRIGGERS THE COURT JURISDICTION

Para. 27: “This Court has held in many of its flourishing jurisprudence that mere allegation of violation of human rights is sufficient to trigger the jurisdiction of this Court and the Court will assume jurisdiction without necessarily examining the veracity of the allegation. In Kareem Meissa Wade v. Republic of Senegal, ECW/CCJ/JUD/19/13, at pg. 259 Para. 95 (3), this court held that: “Nevertheless, that simply invoking human rights violation in a case suffices to establish the jurisdiction of the Court over that case.” Similarly, In BAKARE SARRE V MALI (2011) CCJELR pg. 57, the court stressed that: “Once human rights violations which involves international or community obligations of a member state is alleged, it will exercise its jurisdiction over the case.” This position is further supported by the decision of the Court in SERAP V. FRN & 4 ORS, (2014) ECW/CCJ/JUD/16/14 where this court held that: “the mere allegation that there has been a violation of human rights in the territory of a member state is sufficient prima facie to justify the jurisdiction of this court on the dispute, surely without any prejudice to the substance and merits of the complaint which has to be determined only after the parties have been given the opportunity to present their case, with full guarantees of fair trial.” See also the case of His Excellency Vice-President Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana v. Republic of Sierra Leone.-SUIT NO: ECW/CCJ/APP/38/16 and JUD NO: ECW/CCJ/JUD/19/17 (At page 14 of the judgment) and Mamadou Tandja (2010) CCJELR pg. 109 & Bakare Sarre & 28 Ors v. Mali (2011) (CCJELR) pg. 57.”

— Boley v Liberia & Ors. (2019) – ECW/CCJ/JUD/24/19

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