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

Dictum

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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WHO IS A VICTIM IN INTERNATIONAL LAW? – (ECOWAS Court)

In essence; “A victim is anyone who suffers individual or collective harm (or pain) such as physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss, or generally any impairment of human rights as a result of acts or omissions that constitute gross violations of human rights, or serious violations of humanitarian law norms.” See The Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Survivors of Violations of International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, GA RES 60/147, PMBL, SEC IX, UN DOC A/RES/60/147 (MARCH 21, 2006).

— The Registered Trustees of Jama’a FOUNDATION v FRN ECW/CCJ/JUD/04/20 para. 65

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THERE IS LOCUS STANDI WHERE CIVIL RIGHTS ARE IN DANGER – TWO TESTS FOR DETERMINING LOCUS STANDI

B.B. Apugo & Sons Ltd V. Orthopedic Hospitals Management Board (2016) 13 NWLR (Pt. 1529) 206@ p. 269: “A person has locus standi to sue in an action if he is able to show to the satisfaction of the Court that his civil rights and obligations have been or are in danger of being infringed. There are two tests for determining if a person has locus standi. They are: 1. The action must be justiciable, and 2. There must be a dispute between the parties…To have locus standi the Plaintiff’s Statement of Claim must disclose sufficient legal interest, and show how such interest arose in the subject matter of the action…”

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IF PLAINTIFF RIGHT IS AFFECTED THERE IS LOCUS STANDI

ALEX OLADELE ELUFIOYE & ORS VS IBRAHIM HALILU & ORS (1993) – SC. 310/1989:
“Once the civil rights and obligations of the plaintiffs as individuals are affected, as I hold they are here the courts in exercise of their judicial power set out above can look into such rights and obligations, and for that purpose the plaintiffs have a locus standi before them.”

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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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INTEREST IS THE MEASURING ROD FOR AN ACTION

Para. 27 – 28: “Generally, and from a legal standpoint, the necessity for an applicant to provide justification of interest in a case is attested to by the adage that “Where there is no interest, there is no action”, and also “An interest is the measuring rod for an action”. In other words, an application is admissible only when the applicant justifies that he brings a case before a judge for the purposes of protecting an interest or defending an infringement of such. Such an interest must be direct, personal and certain.”

— Oserada v ECOWAS Council of Ministers & Ors. (2008) – ECW/CCJ/JUD/01/08

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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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