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QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER IN RESPECT OF LOCUS STANDI

Dictum

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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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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WHEN A LARGE COMMUNITY IS AT STAKE, ACCESS TO JUSTICE IS FACILITATED

“56. There is a large consensus in International Law that when the issue at stake is the violation of rights of entire communities, as in the case of the damage to the environment, the access to justice should be facilitated. 57. Article 2 (5) of Convention of “Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision- Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matter “defines the “public concerned” with environment protection as “public affected or likely to be affected by, or having an interest in the environment decision-making for the purposes of this definition nongovernmental organization promoting environment and meeting requirements under national law shall be deemed to have an interest”. Article 9 of the same instrument confirms the access to justice to the public concerned as defined in Article 2 (5).”

— SERAP v FRN – ECW/CCJ/APP/08/09

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DECIDING WHETHER A CLAIMANT HAS LOCUS STANDI

Having held as above, what is the position of the law on the issue of locus standi? In law, deciding whether a Claimant has the requisite locus standi is a function of whether the claim he makes has disclosed his sufficient interest in the subject matter and to determine this it is the averments of the Claimant in his pleadings that the Court has to look at and critically examine to see if it discloses his interest sufficient enough to clothe him with the requisite locus standi to sue.

— 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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DEFINITION OF LOCUS STANDI

In B.B. Apugo & Sons Ltd V. OHMB (2016) LPELR-40598(SC) per Kekere-Ekun, JSC 23, B-E, defined locus standi thus: “Locus standi is the legal right of a party to an action to be heard in litigation before a Court or tribunal. The term connotes the legal capacity of instituting or commencing an action in a competent Court of law or tribunal without any inhibition, obstruction or hindrance from any person or body whatsoever. It is also the law that to have locus standi to sue, the plaintiff must have sufficient interest in the suit. For instance, one of the factors for determining sufficient interest is whether the party seeking redress would suffer some injury or hardship from the litigation…”

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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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