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NATURE OF LOCUS STANDI

Dictum

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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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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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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ACTIO POPULARIS – PUBLIC RIGHT WORTHY TO BE PROTECTED – (ECOWAS Court)

In SERAP V. FRN (2010) CCJELR, PG. 196, PARA 32, & 34 the Court stated that: “The doctrine of actio popularis was developed under Roman law in order to allow any citizen to challenge a breach of a public right in Court. This doctrine developed as a way of ensuring that the restrictive approach to the issue of standing would not prevent public spirited individuals from challenging a breach of a public right in Court. In public interest litigation, the Plaintiff need not show that he has suffered any personal injury or has a special interest that needs to be protected to have standing. Plaintiff must establish that there is a public right which is worthy of protection which has been allegedly breached and that the matter in question is justiciable.”

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CRITERIA TO HAVE LOCUS STANDI

It is the law that to have locus standi to sue, the plaintiff must show sufficient interest in the suit or matter. One criterion of sufficient interest is whether the party could have been joined as a party in the suit. Another criterion is whether the party seeking the redress or remedy will suffer some injury or hardship arising from the litigation. If the Judge is satisfied that he will so suffer, then he must be heard as he is entitled to be heard. See Chief Ojukwu v. Governor of Lagos State (1985) 2 NWLR (Pl. 10) 806; Busari v. Oseni (1992) 4 NWLR (Pt. 237) 557; Albian Construction Co Ltd. v. Rao Investment and Property Ltd. (1992) 1 NWLR (pt. 219) 583; United Bank for Africa Ltd. v. Obianwu (1999) 12 NWLR (Pt. 629) 78 … A party who is in imminent danger of any conduct of the adverse party has the locus standi to commence an action. See Olawoyin v. Attorney-General of Northern Region (1961) 1 All NLR 269; Gamioba v. Ezesi (1961) 1 All NLR 584; Olagunju v. Yahaya (1998) 3 NWLR (Pt. 542) 501.

— Niki Tobi, JSC. Pam & Anor. V Mohammed (2008) – SC.238/2007

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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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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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