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WHETHER PERSON STANDING TO SUE IS THE PROPER PERSON TO REQUEST AN ADJUDICATION

Dictum

When a party’s standing to sue is in issue in a case, the question is whether the person whose standing is in issue is a proper party to request an adjudication of a particular issue and not whether the issue itself is justiciable. See Oloriode v. Oyebi (1984) 1 S. C. N. L. R. 390, 392 Senator Adesanya v. President of Nigeria AND ANOTHER {1981) 2 N. C. L. R. 358. Thomas v. Olufosoye (1986) 1 N. W. L. R. (pt. 18) 669.

— Obaseki, Ag. CJN. Adebanjo v Olowosoga (1988) – SC 134/1986

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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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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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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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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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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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