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COURT HAS NO JURISDICTION WHERE LOCUS STANDI IS LACKING

Dictum

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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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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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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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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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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LOCUS STANDI IS JURISDICTIONAL

So crucial and of utmost importance is the issue of locus standi that it has over the years attained the level of a jurisdictional status in the litigation battlefield and thus can be raised at any stage of the proceedings. It can also be raised suo motu by the Court, so far as the parties are called upon to address the Court on it, to ensure that whilst the door of the hallowed halls of the Courts in the land are open to persons with genuine grievances resulting from wrongful acts or omissions of others affecting them to approach the Court to seek redress from the temple of justice, that same door would be shut against persons who are mere busy bodies or meddlesome interlopers, without any real or genuine grievance affecting them from inundating the Courts with frivolous claims without any foundational or factual basis. See Ikeja Hotels Plc v. LSBIR (supra) @ pp. 1274 1275, See also Adesanya v. President, Federal Republic of Nigeria (supra) @ p. 854; Owodunni v. Regd. Trustee, Celestial Church of Christ (supra) @ p. 1815.

— 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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WHAT IS LOCUS STANDI

In law therefore, locus standi denotes the right standing of a person to sue over a wrong allegedly done to him. It is the totality of the right conferred on a person who approaches a Court to seek remedy to have the right standing to seek particular remedy. It is for this reason that in law a person without the requisite locus standi, no matter the colossal nature of the injury or damages allegedly done or suffered, cannot sue or have the right standing in a Court of law to seek redress over such an alleged injury or damage done in which he has no or cannot show his locus standi to sue. Such a person can simply or safely be described as meddlesome interloper. See Owodunni v. Regd. Trustees, Celestial Church of Christ (2009) FWLR (Pt. 9) 1488. See also Ikeja Hotels Plc v. LSBIR (2005) All FWLR (Pt. 279) 1260. Abubakar v. Bebeji Oil and Allied Products Ltd. (2007) All FWLR (Pt. 362) 1855; NPA Plc v. Lotus Plastic Ltd. (2006) All FWLR (Pt. 297) 1023; Taiwo v. Adeboro (2013) All FWLR (Pt. 584) 53; Adesanya v. President, Federal Republic of Nigeria (2001) FWLR (Pt. 46) 859; Amah v. Nwankwo (2008) All FWLR (Pt. 411) 479.

— 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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