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WHY LOCUS STANDI WAS EVOLVED

Dictum

In INEC v. Ogbadibo LGC (2014) 22640(CA) 24-25, F-C, by Ogbuinya, JCA as follows:
“From the etymological perspective, the cliche expression, locus standi, traces its roots to Latin Language which means: “place of standing”. In its expounded legal form, locus standi denotes the legal right or capacity of a person to institute an action in a Court of law when his right is trampled upon by somebody or authority. The locus classicus on locus standi in the Nigerian jurisprudence is the case of Adesanya V The President, FRN (1981) 5 SC 112; (1981) 2 NCLR 358… Locus standi was evolved to protect the Court from being converted into a jamboree by professional litigants or meddlesome interlopers who have no interest in matters, See Taiwo V Adegboro (2011) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1159) 562″

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CLOSE RELATION MAY SUE, WHERE DIRECT VICTIM IS UNABLE TO SUE – (ECOWAS Court)

In STELLA IFEOMA & 20 ORS V. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA (2015) thus: “when it becomes impossible for him whose right is violated to insist on that right or to seek redress, either because he is deceased or prevented in one way or the other from doing so, it is perfectly normal that the right to bring his case before the law Courts should fall on other persons close to him…” This was further emphasized when the Court held that: “if for any reason, the direct victim of the violation cannot exercise his/her rights, in particular, for being irreversibly incapacitated or having died as a result of the violation, the closest family members can do so, while assuming the status of indirect victims.”

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NATURE OF LOCUS STANDI

Locus standi has been defined as the legal capacity to institute an action in a court of law. Where a plaintiff lacks locus standi to maintain an action, the court will lack the competence to entertain his complaint. It is therefore a threshold issue which affects the jurisdiction of the court. See Daniel v. I NEC (2015) LPELR – SC.757/2013; Thomas v. Olufosoye (1986) 1 NWLR (Pt. 18) 669, (1986) 1 NSCC 323; Opobiyi and Anor. v. Layiwola Muniru (2011) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1278) 387 at 403- F. It is also trite that in determining whether a plaintiff has the necessary locus to institute an action, it is his pleadings that would be considered by the court. The claimant must show sufficient interest in the subject matter of the dispute. See Emezi v. Osuagwu (2005) All FWLR (Pt. 259) 1891, (2005) 12 NWLR (Pt. 93) 340; Momoh and Anor. v. Olotu (1970) 1 All NLR 117; Attorney-General, Anambra State v. Attorney-General, Federation and Ors. (2005) All FWLR (Pt. 268) 1557, (2005) 9 NWLR (Pt. 931) 572.

— Kekere-Ekun, JSC. Nyesom v. Peterside (SC.1002/2015 (REASONS), 12 Feb 2016)

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WHAT IS LOCUS STANDI?

Locus standi , which is a Latin word simply means a place of standing. It is the legal right of a party to an action to be heard in Litigation before the Court or Tribunal. The term denotes, the right of a party to institute an action in a Court of Law or seek judicial enforcement of a duty. See Senator Adesanya vs. President FRN (1981) 5 SC 112, Adesolakan Vs. Adegbo vs. A. G, Lagos State (2012) All FWLR (Pt 631) 1522. Locus standi thus, entails the legal capacity of instituting or commencing an action in a competent Court of Law without any inhibition, obstruction or hindrance from any person or body whatsoever. Whenever a person’s Locus to sue is in issue, as in this appeal, the question is really whether the person whose standing is in issue, is the proper person to request an adjudication over the dispute he has brought for adjudication. The issue at this stage, is whether the Plaintiff or the person whose locus is challenged, has disclosed sufficient interest in the dispute or the subject matter of the dispute.

— A.A. Wambai, JCA. Skye Bank v. Haruna & Ors. (CA/K/264/2011, 17th December, 2014)

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QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER IN RESPECT OF LOCUS STANDI

The pertinent questions to consider here are: has the Appellant who was the Plaintiff been able to show sufficient nexus between itself and the purported actions of the Respondents? Has the Appellant been able to demonstrate that its civil rights and obligations have been or are in danger of being infringed? Has the Appellant been able to show that the purported actions of the Respondents have harmed it or stand to potentially harm it? Is the Appellant’s suit justiciable? Is there a dispute between the Appellant and the Respondents?

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

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A VICTIM IS A PERSON WHO SUFFERS HARM DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY – (ECOWAS Court)

It follows from the above that a victim can be a person who suffers directly or indirectly any harm or pain (physical or mental injury), emotional suffering (through loss of a close family member or relation), economic loss (loss of Properties) or any impairment that can be categorized as human rights violation. Additionally, other than the loss, harm or damage, an Applicant must prove an interest in the matter which must be direct and personal. This Court has through several decisions made exception for individuals and organizations who have not suffered directly or personally to institute actions in a representative capacity on behalf of victims.

— The Registered Trustees of Jama’a FOUNDATION v FRN ECW/CCJ/JUD/04/20 para. 67

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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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