The Legal Defence and Assistance Project on the 20th of January, 2016 filed an action at the Investment and Securities Tribunal against the Security and Exchange Commission and The Nigerian Stock Exchange challenging the power of the Security and Exchange Commission in allowing states government raise bonds in the open market.
The reason for this action is that the Investment and Securities Act in section 224(3)(a) made clear provisions on the conditions any state government must fulfil before it is granted loan or credit or bond in the capital market and these conditions are strict and ought to be followed and complied with strictly.
The claims sought by LEDAP are as follows;
At the last proceeding, which came up on the 27th of February, all parties adopted their applications before the tribunal. The matter has been adjourned to the 22nd of May for Judgment.
The Legal Defence and Assistance Project in partnership with the E.U funded Rule of Law (RoLAC) programme and the Administration of Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee (ACJMC) recently began a practitioner survey to identify the level of awareness and the extent of implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act in the Federal Capital Territory.
The survey focuses on the implementation of the Nigerian criminal justice reform agenda, the objective of the survey is to advance the timely, effective and transparent dispensation of criminal justice.
The outcome of the survey will contribute to making informed decision on appropriate actions to be implemented to enable progress in implementation of and compliance with key provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, it will also help to provide useful information to stakeholders on the progress being made and it will provide a baseline by which progress can be measure annually.
The survey targets the police and other law enforcement officers, prosecutors, magistrates and judges, prison officials and defence lawyers who are involved in the implementation of provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.
Some legal practitioners have opined that the decision Supreme Court in SC/175/2005- delivered on the 23rd of February 2018 is clear deviation and implicit overruling of its earlier position on the implication of a court process signed by a law firm.
Most of the commentators have argued that the position of the law as established through a long line of cases interpreting section 2 and Section 24 of the Legal Practitioners Act, is that a court process signed other than by a legal practitioner whose name appears on the Roll of legal practitioners registered with the Supreme Court, is a nullity.
This write-up seeks to clarify the decision in the Heritage Bank Case with consideration given to the position of the courts on the proper person to sign court processes under Section 2 and 24 of the Legal Practitioners Act and the implication on proceedings arising thereupon.
THE POSITION OF LAW THROUGH THE CASES: IMPLICATION OF VIOLATION OF SECTION 2 AND 24 OF THE LEGAL PRACTITIONERS ACT
Prior to the decision of the apex court in the Heritage Bank Case (Supra) there have been a plethora of decided cases on the implication of signing court processes by a law firm. The most popular Nigerian case on this issue being the case Okafor V. Nweke (2007) 10 NWLR Pt 1043 at 521 where the Applicants filed a motion before Supreme Court praying inter alia for; An order for extension of time within which to apply for Leave to (Cross) Appeal; Leave to (Cross) Appeal; Extension of time within which to file the applicants Notice and Grounds in the said (Cross) Appeal; and An order deeming the said Notice and Grounds of Appeal properly filed and served.
The Applicant’s motion seeking the above orders was signed by “J.H.C. Okolo, SAN & Co” as was the Notice of Cross Appeal and the brief of argument in support of the motion. The Respondents filed a Counter Affidavit in opposition to the application and in its brief of argument raised the issue “Whether the Notice of Motion, Notice of (Cross) Appeal and the Applicants’ Brief of Argument for extension of time in this application are null and void.”
The Learned Senior Advocate (Counsel to the Respondents) referred the Supreme Court to Section 74(1) of the Evidence Act, Cap 112, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990 and submitted that by virtue of that provision the Court was enjoined to take judicial notice of all legal practitioners authorized by law to appear or act before it and further submitted that “J.H.C. Okolo SAN & Co” was not a legal practitioner authorized by law to appear or act before the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
In support of his argument the Learned Senior Counsel referring to and relying on Sections 2(1) and 24 of the Legal Practitioners Act, cap 207, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990, submitted that the law firm, “J.H.C. Okolo SAN & Co” not being a person whose name is on the Roll of Legal Practitioners in Nigeria was not entitled to sign or issue the Notice of Motion, Notice of (Cross) Appeal and Applicants’ Brief of Argument for Extension of Time in the application and that the said documents as signed and issued by the firm were null and void relying on the Court of Appeal decision in New Nigerian Bank Plc vs Dendag Ltd (2005) 4 NWLR(pt. 916) 549 at 573.
In response, the Applicant contended that a casual look at the documents confirmed that each of them was signed by the party issuing same as the counsel in the proceeding, that Respondent was not challenging the signature as being that of a legal practitioner and the import of Sections 2(1) and 24 of the Legal Practitioners Act merely required a legal practitioner representing a party in any proceeding to sign any court process. It further argued that since it was not in contention whether the process had been signed by a legal practitioner, all that was required was to call oral evidence to ascertain the legal practitioner that signed it.
The learned counsel for the Applicant further argued that a signature on any document is the attribute that authenticates the document and the documents under consideration where duly signed by “J.H.C. Okolo (SAN)” a registered Legal Practitioner shown on the Rolls of the Supreme Court as No 1265 and on the Rolls of Senior Advocates of Nigeria as No 76. The Applicant stated that the addition of the words “& CO” not in the signature authenticating the process but in the further description of that known identity is a mere surplusage which cannot take the place or displace the signature.
Interestingly, after the Respondents raised the above issues, the Applicant’s reply brief in response to the issues was signed by J.H.C. Okolo SAN and not J.H.C. Okolo SAN & Co, almost a clear admission that its former position was defective and an attempt at administering the medicine after death.
The Supreme Court in upholding the arguments of the Respondents held that with the combined provision of section 2(1) and Section 24 of the Legal Practitioners Act, Cap 207 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 for a person to be qualified to practice as a legal practitioner he must have his name in the roll otherwise he cannot engage in any form of legal practice in Nigeria. The court viewed that:
“…the rule does not say that his signature must be on the roll but his name. “J.H.C. Okolo SAN & Co” is not a legal practitioner and therefore cannot practice as such by say, filing processes in the courts of this country
In holding that such court process signed by a law firm is incompetent and liable to striking out the Supreme Court stated that:
“… J.H.C. Okolo SAN & Co is not a legal practitioner recognized by the law, it follows that the said J.H.C. Okolo SAN & Co cannot legally sign and/or file any process in the courts and as such the Motion on Notice filed on 19th December 2005, Notice of Cross Appeal and Applicants brief of argument in support of the said motion all signed and issued by the firm known and called J.H.C. Okolo SAN & Co are incompetent in law particularly as the said firm of J.H.C. Okolo SAN & Co is not a registered legal practitioner.”
By the decision in Okafor’s case a court process signed by a person other than a legal practitioner is incompetent and must be struck out.
WHEN BREACH OF SECTION 2 AND 24 OF THE LEGAL PRACTITIONERS ACT ROBS THE COURT OF JURISDICTION IN THE SUIT
In a more recent case in Suit No SC. 96/2006-Chief Gabriel Igbinedion & Ors v. Umoh Asuquo Antiadecided on the 17th of December 2017 the Supreme Court again considered a similar issue and in so doing showed much appreciation of its earlier decisions with regards. In this case one of the question raised by the Appellant before the Supreme Court was
“Whether the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal acted within their jurisdiction in relying on the fundamentally defective Notice of Appeal issued and signed by Chief P.C Ajayi-Obe (SAN) & Co., which is not a legal practitioner recognized by the law to practice in Nigeria?”
It was the contention of the Appellant that the judgement of the Court below was incompetent because it was predicated upon an incompetent Notice of Appeal, and so, as held in Macfoy v. UAC (1962) AC 152, “there was nothing upon which the judgement of the lower court could be predicated, and every judgement founded on such Notice of Appeal is a nullity”. The Appellant submitted that a defective Notice of Appeal is non-existent in the eyes of the law, therefore, the appeal is incompetent. It argued that the defect of the Notice of Appeal being the signing of the notice by the law firm instead of a legal practitioner as required under Section 2(1) and Section 24 of the LPA. The Appellant cited several earlier decided cases on this point for the consideration of the court. The Respondent in its reply did not address this issue.
In agreeing with the Appellant, the Supreme Court per Amina Adamu JSC stated:
“The appellants are right that a Notice of Appeal is the originating process that sets the ball rolling for the valid and lawful commencement of an appeal-Shelim v. Gobang (12) NWLR Pt. 1156 at 435. Therefore, any defect in the Notice of Appeal goes to the root of the appeal and robs this court of jurisdiction to hear the appeal”
The Court in reaching the above decision quoted with approval the dictum of Rhodes-Vivour JSC in Iwunze v, FRN (2015) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1404) at 580 where the Learned Justice observed inter alia that:
“…the originating process in all appeals is the Notice of Appeal. Once it is found to be defective the Court of Appeal ceases to have jurisdiction to entertain an appeal in whatever form”.
The apex court also cited with approval its decision in FRN v. Dairo (2015) 6 NWLR Pt. 1454 at 141 per Nweze, JSC, that:
“As it is well known, it is a notice of appeal that initiates an appeal from a High Court to the lower Court-Put differently, the notice (actually a competent notice of appeal) is the foundational process that triggers off an appeal from the High Court to the lower Court (Court of Appeal)..As such any virus in this process would, invariably, corrode or taint the entire appeal thereby rendering it incompetent. The effect of such viral corrosion is, usually, far-reaching as it nibbles at the jurisdiction of the appeal Court which must, as of necessity, strike out such a process. In effect, the absence of a competent Notice of Appeal, simply, translates to the non-existence of an appeal… This must be so for it is a condition precedent to any valid exercise of the appellate jurisdiction.
In the above cases of Igbinedion & Ors v. Umoh Asuquo (supra), Iwunze v, FRN (supra) and FRN v. Dairo (supra) the Supreme Court while maintaining the position in Okafor’s case that a law firm “cannot legally sign and/or file any court process in the courts”, and such process signed by a law firm is “incompetent in law”, the apex court went further to state succinctly that when the court process which is struck out as incompetent due to defective signing is a process which initiates the proceedings then the entire proceedings is a nullity, the foundation of the proceedings having been struck out.
The apex court in the three cases considered whether the defective process was of such nature that robbed the court of jurisdiction in the entire proceedings and on this point concluded that because the defective court processes where originating processes; having been declared incompetent, there was nothing on which the entire proceedings of the court could rest. The defect in the originating process therefore meant that there was no valid process upon which the court could assume jurisdiction.
The view expressed by their lordships in these decisions accord with the Court’s view, per Fabiyi JSC, in SBL Consortium V. NNPC (2016) 9 NWLR Pt. 1252 at 317 where the originating summons had been signed by a law firm and the Learned Justice held that:
“It is not in doubt that the signature of “Adewale Adesokan & Co” on the originating summons robs the process of competence ab initio as the said firm is not a registered legal practitioner enrolled to practice as a barrister and solicitor in this Court…In the prevailing circumstance, all the proceedings, which rested on the inchoate originating summons, are deemed not to have taken place in law. One cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand…”
Interestingly however, in reaching its decision in Igbinedion & Ors v. Umoh Asuquo (supra), the Supreme Court also quoted with approval the dictum of Galadinma JSC in Hamzat & Anor v. Sanni & Ors (2015) 6 NWLR Pt. 1453 at 486 wherein the Learned Justice very aptly stated as follows:
“…In SBL Consortium v. NNPC this Court citing the case of Okafor v. Nweke struck out the Plaintiffs originating summons and statement of claim, both having being signed by “Adewale Adesokan & Co”, who was held not to be a legal practitioner known to law…in view of our clear position in Okafor v. Nweke and other similar cases, I hold that the Appellant’s Statement of claim on which evidence was led, were a nullity, same having been signed in the name of a law firm.”
The decision above decision struck out the statement of claim alone relying on the authority of Okafor v. Nweke. This posture to the issue has however been reconsidered by the apex court in the recent Heritage Bank’s case and distinguished from the established principles having the applicability in Okafor v. Nweke and the consequences to jurisdiction of the court.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF FACTS IN HERITAGE BANK LIMITED V. BENTWORTH FINANCE (NIGERIA) LIMITED
In Suit No: SC.175/2005-Heritage Bank Limited v. Bentworth Finance (Nigeria) Limited, decided by the Supreme Court on the 23rd day of February 2018, the Respondent had at the trial court filed a Statement of Claim on 19th of September 1990 signed and settled by “Beatrice Fisher & Co.”. The Appellant did not raise any objection on this defect at the trial court nor at the court of appeal but raised it as an issue of jurisdiction at the Supreme Court.
It was the contention of the Appellant that the Statement of Claim filed by the Respondent on 19th September 1990 signed or settled by “Beatrice Fisher & Co.” a person whose name is not on the Roll of Legal Practitioners registered in the Supreme Court and licensed to practice law in Nigeria was defective and incompetent. Consequently, it was submitted by the Appellant’s Counsel that the defective process did rob the trial court and the Court of Appeal of their jurisdiction. The Appellant cited Section 2(1) and Section 24 of the Legal Practitioners Act , LFN 1990 and the several decisions of the Supreme Court on the issue including Okafor v. Nweke (2007) 10 NWLR Pt 1375 at 513, Brathwaite v. Skye Bank Plc (2013) 5 NWLR Pt. 1346 1, Oketade v. Adewunmi (2010) 8 NWLR Pt. 1195 at 63, SLB Consortium v. NNPC (2011) 9 NWLR Pt. 1252 at 337, Nigerian Army v. Samuel (2013)14 NWLR Pt. 1375 at 466 as authorities on its arguments.
The Respondent in reply to the issue raised by the Appellant, argued that the decisions of the Court which the Appellant relied on where reached after the said statement of claim had already being filed and contended that the allegedly defective processes in the suit where filed and settled in 1990, before the decision in Okafor v. Nweke decided in 2007.
It is beyond doubt that the present issue before the apex court was one which the earlier decisions of the court seemed to have put beyond peradventure. Thus, it is understandable that the Respondent did not argue the authorities as there were several authorities against it on the point. However, the Supreme Court, per Ejembi Eko JSC, after hearing argument of parties in disagreeing with the Appellant held:
“I observe that the Appellant made no distinction between substantive jurisdiction and procedural jurisdiction. He also made no distinction between an originating summons and the allegedly defective Statement of Claim. It is important that I make this point from the onset that a defect in procedure is not the same as a defect in competence or jurisdiction. A defect in the former is regarded as a mere irregularity and it can be waived: SAUDE v. ABDULLAHI (1989) 7 SC (Pt. ii) 116. …Whether or not an irregularity renders a process void or merely voidable depends on the type of irregularity. The law is settled, as this Court pointed out in, Brathwaite v. Skye Bank Plc (2013) 5 NWLR Pt. 1346 1, Nigerian Army v. Samuel (2013)14 NWLR Pt. 1375 at 466…; an irregularity affecting an originating process is a fundamental irregularity that goes to the roots. The Statement of Claim, I must point out, is not such an originating process.
The apex court further stated that:
Jurisdictional defect that renders the adjudication incompetent ultra vires, null and void is the substantive jurisdiction because such jurisdictional issue is extrinsic to the adjudication: MADUKOLU v. NKEMDILIM (1962) 2 SCNLR 341. When want of substantive jurisdiction is raised, the issue is whether the jurisdiction vested statutorily in the court allows it to adjudicate in the matter. That is why it is extrinsic. When, however, the issue is whether a process filed in the course of proceeding or adjudication is an irregular process having not being issued or filed in accordance with the prescribed practice, the issue raised is whether the process can be countenanced, and not whether the court can ordinarily and completely assume jurisdiction and adjudicate in the matter in the first place. In most cases procedural jurisdiction is secondary to the substantive jurisdiction. The distinction between the two lies in the fact while procedural jurisdiction can be waived; substantive jurisdiction cannot be waived.
The court in reaching this decision cited with approval the dictum of Rhodes Vivour, JSC in A.G KWARA STATE & ANOR V. ALHAJI SAKA ADEYEMO & ORS (2016) 7 SC Pt. 11 P. 149 that:
“Jurisdiction is a question of law. There are two types of jurisdiction. 1. Jurisdiction as a matter of procedural law. 2. Jurisdiction as a matter of substantive law. A litigant may waive the former…”
The court concluded that although the Statement of Claim was allegedly not signed by a known legally qualified legal practitioner, the Appellant as defendant, condoned the defective process. They participated in the proceedings and evidence from the Statement of Claim was called after the Statement of Defence joining issues with the defective statement of claim, the trial court gave judgement upon the evidence and even at the court of appeal no issue was made of the alleged defective statement of Claim. The court therefore held the Appellant to have waived its right to object to the defective process.
The decision of the Supreme Court in the Heritage Bank’s case without expressly attempting to overrule itself unavoidably deviates in some regards from its position on the above issue, particularly on the implication of signing of a court process other than an originating process by a law firm or person other than a legal practitioner.
The position that a Statement of Claim or Court Process signed by a law firm rather than a legal practitioner is “irregular” rather than “incompetent” put forward clearly runs against all earlier authorities on the issue. In Hamzat & Anor v. Sanni & Ors (supra) Galadinma JSC stated without any ambiguity that the statement of claim signed by the law firm in the suit was a “nullity”. A process being a nullity ab-initio cannot receive life by condoning or a waiver as it was dead upon its arrival and is of no legal consequence. Accordingly, all proceedings upon such statement of claim stood on nothing.
This is particularly so as the Black’s Law dictionary 4th Edition defines “nullity” as
“Nothing; no proceeding; an act or proceeding in a cause which the op- posite party may treat as though it had not taken place, or which lias absolutely no legal force or effect. Salter v. Hilgen, 40 Wis. 363; Tenness v. Lapeer County Circuit Judge, 42 Mich. 460, 4 N. W. 220; Johnson v. Dines, 61 Md.
Quite respectfully, unless the apex court intends to overrule its earlier position, there is a clear difference between its recent decision that a statement of claim signed by a law firm is “irregular” and its earlier decision that same is a “nullity”. One can only favour the view that the subsequent and more recent decision represents an implicit overruling of the earlier position or at best that there is no concurrence of two decisions of the apex court on the question.
The decision in Heritage Bank’s Case however appeals to law and logic and is not without legal framework to support the reasoning. The Court of Appeal sitting at Lagos in M.O Moudkas Nigeria Ent. Limited & Anor V. Emiko Israel Obioma (2016) LPELR-40165 (CA) had the cause to determine an exactly similar issue ie. “Whether a statement of Claim signed by a law firm was irregular and therefore curable or incompetent and therefore a nullity ab-initio”.
In the case the Plaintiff filed and properly signed the writ of summons in the name of the legal practitioner. However, the statement of Claim was signed in the name of the law firm rather than a known legal practitioner. The Plaintiff on realizing the defect filed an amended Statement of defence which reflected the name of the legal practitioner and sought to rely on same to correct the defective processes earlier filed. The Court of appeal in considering the signature on the statement of claim stated:
“Of the statement of claim I am clear in my modest opinion that it was not signed by a recognized or known registered legal practitioner or the claimants. It is on that score incurably defective. The defect cannot be cured by an amendment. The amended statement of claim does not therefore cure the mortal defect in the statement of claim. See Ministry of Works and Transport, Adamawa State and Ors. v. Yakubu and Anor. (2013) 6 NWLR (pt.1351) 481 at 495 My Lord, in the instant appeal, it is not in dispute that the
The Court of Appeal in M.O Moudkas Nigeria Ent case therefore held that the defective Statement of Claim was a nullity and same could not be curred by subsequent amendment. The Court of Appeal considering the proper order to make in the circumstances ie. Where there was a valid writ but an incompetent and void Statement of Claim decided:
“However, because the writ of summons by which the action was commenced, and which originated the action was properly signed by a legal practitioner as prescribed by our law, it remains valid and can still be built upon as a solid foundation. It is the statement of claim upon which evidence was based that cannot stand. Indeed, as the saying goes, you cannot put something or nothing and expect it to stay, it will fall. Evidence led in the case based on incompetent statement of claim is also incompetent and should be discountenanced and struck out. Therefore, the writ of summons which was separately filed several months before the statement of claim was filed having been properly signed and competent cannot and should not be allowed to be killed by an incompetent statement of claim. It stands, while the statement of claim is struck out
The above decision of the Court of Appeal quite respectfully would have been a decent guide for the Supreme Court in its consideration of the Heritage Bank Case even though the apex court’s decision can be supported by the argument I now canvass below.
If we consider the Rules of Court on this issue, with particular focus on the Lagos Rules for illustration, the decision in Heritage Bank’s Case becomes easier to rationalize and appreciate. It is incisive to note that the Rules of court are usually an incorporation of several decided authorities on an issue of procedural law. It is therefore safe to opine that the rules regard the existing decisions of court at the time of its making.
Now, under Order 3 Rules 2(1)(2) of the High Court of Lagos State Rules 2012 it is provided that;
(2) Where a claimant fails to comply with Rules 2 (1) above, his originating process shall not be accepted for filling by the Registry
Rules Order 5 of the same Rules state that:
(1) Where in beginning or purporting to begin any proceeding there has by reason of anything done or left undone, been a failure to comply with the requirements of these rules, the failure shall nullify the proceedings.
(2) Where at any stage in the course of or in connection with any proceedings there has by reason of anything done or left undone been a failure to comply with the requirements as to time, place manner, or form, the failure shall be treated as an irregularity and may not nullify such step taken in the proceedings. The Judge may give any direction as he thinks fit to regularize such steps.
The provision of Order 5 quoted above represents the state of the procedural law on the issue and states that any violation done to a process which commences proceedings shall nullify the proceedings. However, if the violation is not of a process which commences proceedings, but one filed after commencement of proceedings then such violation is an irregularity which may not nullify proceedings depending on whether objection to the irregularity is raised timeously or condoned by the adverse party.
The basis of this position is that after an action is properly commenced the court assumes substantive jurisdiction. The jurisdiction which then guides proceedings after the court assumes jurisdiction is the procedural jurisdiction which does not nullify the proceedings if it is cured or waived by the party at whose instance it ought to be set it aside for irregularity.
What is left therefore is to query whether a “Statement of Claim” is an originating process for assumption of the court’s substantive jurisdiction? On this Order 3 of the Lagos Rules being used illustratively indicates a civil action may be commenced by a writ of summons which shall be accompanied inter alia by a statement of claim. An argument that a statement of claim is an originating process is therefore akin to argument that list of documents in a suit commences an action. This is so because an originating or initiating process is one which commences an action.
The question whether a statement of Claim is an originating process was considered by the court of appeal in the case of Buhari V. Adebayo (2014) 10 NWLR Pt 1416 where the court on held per Ajeku JCA:
“… from the above clear and unambiguous provisions, the statement of claim is one of the accompanying processes to be filed with a writ of summons in a proceeding initiated by a writ. The writ is the originating or initiating process.”
Therefore, the statement of claim not a process which begins or purports to begin a suit, a defect therein should ordinarily not nullify the proceedings and can should therefore not rob the court of its jurisdiction over the suit in itss entirety. This is the premise and conclusion of the decision of the court in the Heritage Bank Case.
The Supreme Court by its decision in Heritage Bank Ltd has clearly amended the new blue print for arguments on the effect of Section 2 and 24 of the Legal Practitioner’s Act to court processes signed by person other than the Litigant or his Legal Practitioner defined thereunder. The position of the law can be succinctly summarized presently to be:
By OLIVER OMOREDIA ESQ
Welcome to another edition LEDAP Nigeria’s Weekly Newsletter which keeps you up to date on the latest Human Rights News and updates in the law, What we are up to and Upcoming Events.
12-16th March 2018
Air Raid – Adamawa Communities Vow to Drag Nigerian Air Force to ICC for Alleged Killings
Six Bachama ethnic communities in Adamawa State have vowed to drag the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over alleged bombings of their communities. Read more
Nigerian judge, Chile Eboe-Osuji Elected New President of ICC
The judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC), sitting in a plenary session have elected Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji of Nigeria as President of the Court for a three-year term with immediate effect. Read more
SERAP Writes AU, Demands Suspension of Cameroon
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has sent an open letter to the African Union Chairperson and President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, urging him to urgently call an Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) to suspend the rights of membership of Cameroon from the Union. Read more
Enugu Rangers, WACOL Launch Campaign against Anti-women Practices
An Enugu based non-governmental organization, NGO, Women’s Aid Collective (WACOL) and the Enugu Rangers International F.C. have launched fresh action against all forms of negative practices on women. Read more
Hate Penalty for Hate Speech?
A recent bill, which passed through first reading in the Senate, has stirred controversy and criticism for recommending death sentence or life imprisonment for hate speech mongers. Read more
Security Agents as Rights Abusers
There have been reports of human rights abuses by security agencies. This has led to Nigeria receiving low ratings in rights enforcement and respect. Read more
Nigerian Govt’s Treatment Of IPOB Violates African Charter, Says African Commission On Human And People’s Rights
The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) has stated that the declaration of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist group, the attacks by Federal Government agencies on its members constitute a prima facie violation of the African Charter. Read more
Police and Nigerian Chief Vow Action Against Anti-Gay Blackmail
The police commissioner and a traditional chief in Delta State are backing Nigerian human rights activists’ efforts to end a wave of blackmail and extortion of gay men and others. Read more
UN Experts Condemn Decision to Seek Death Sentence against Egyptian Photojournalist Abou Zeid
UN human rights experts strongly condemn a decision by the Egyptian prosecutor to seek the death sentence against acclaimed photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, known as “Shawkan”, who was arrested while covering anti-government protests. Read more
Paradigm Initiative Commends Passage of Digital Rights Bill
The Nigerian Senate has passed the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill, following in the footsteps of the Nigerian House of Representatives which passed the Bill on December 19, 2018. Read more
Sahel 2018: Overview of Humanitarian Needs and Requirement
Acute rainfall deficits last season in several regions of the Sahel, and worsening insecurity have escalated humanitarian needs. To address the most urgent needs across the region, humanitarians will need US$2.7 billion in 2018. In five countries – Cameroon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Nigeria – aid organisations and Governments have developed response plans to provide life-saving assistance and help communities rebuild livelihoods. Read more
Bring Back Our Girls Campaigners Threaten to Sue The Nigerian Government over Abducted Dapchi Girls
The Nigerian group that sparked a global campaign for the safe return of schoolgirls kidnapped in 2014 said on Tuesday it would sue the government if it failed to provide answers over a similar mass abduction of the Dapchi Girls last month. Read more
Court Fines Nigeria Police N3m for Violation of Fundamental Right
An FCT high court, Maitama, on Tuesday, March 13, ordered the Nigeria Police Force to pay N3 million to one Kingsley Efobi, for violation of his fundamental right to personal liberty. Read more
Ambode leads Walk Against Domestic Violence, Backs 25-year jail term for Rapists
Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has backed the 25 years jail term prescribed for rapists and perpetrators of all forms of domestic violence, saying that the time has come to take more aggressive steps to put a stop to the menace. Read more
Amnesty Data Activists Uncover Serious Negligence by Oil Giants Shell and Eni
A groundbreaking research project by Amnesty International has exposed evidence of serious negligence by oil giants Shell and Eni, whose irresponsible approach to oil spills in the Niger Delta is exacerbating an environmental crisis. Read more
Court Fines Military N1 Million for Human Rights Abuse in Port Harcourt
A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt has fined the 6 Division of Nigerian Army, N1 million for gross abuse of human rights. The army was accused of abusing the rights of an actress and movie producer, Ebere Ohakwe, popularly known as Jewel Infinity. Read more
Court Reinstates Dismissed Whistleblower
About three years after he was suspended, a whistle-blower who exposed alleged fraudulent activities in the Police Service Commission (PSC), Aaron Kaase, has been reinstated by the commission. Read more
International Women’s Day 2018
To celebrate the International Women’s Day 2018 which occurred on the 8th of March 2018. The Legal Defence and Assistance Project, interviewed a number of powerful and successful Nigerian women on what it means to be a woman in Nigeria and how young girls and women can PressforProgress in line with this year’s theme. Checkout the video here.
Torture Prevention Project Targeting The Police in Partnership with UNDEF
LEDAP calls for consultancies as it launches Torture Prevention Project Targeting Police – In partnership with the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) and the National Committee against Torture, LEDAP is getting set to launch a project to tackle torture and ill treatment in policing. The project will be located Lagos, Adamawa and Yobe States, as well as at the Federal Capital Territory. LEDAP just launched a call for consultants to conduct baseline assessment of the rate and pattern of torture and ill treatment in policing, and to prepare a police good conduct manual. For more information and the call for expression on interest for the consultancies, reach out to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
JAMB appeals against court decision banning post-UTME Exams
Following recent decision of the Federal High Court in the suit filed by the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) against JAMB, the Minister of Education and the National Universities Commission (NUC), declaring illegal the Post-UTME examinations usually carried out by Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education for admission candidates. JAMB has appealed against the decision to the Court of Appeal Abuja. Read more
South-West PDP Crisis: Appeal Court Gives verdict
The Court of Appeal, Ado Ekiti division has set aside a ruling of the federal high court in the matter instituted by Chief Makanjuola Ogundipe against the executive of the party in the South West zone. Read more
Court sentences three men to death by hanging for armed robbery in Ogun
An Abeokuta High Court on Thursday sentenced three men to death by hanging for armed robbery, conspiracy and rape while the fourth accused, Oguntolu Oludare got 10 years imprisonment for receiving stolen goods. Read more
Court Orders Uncle to Return Inheritance, Properties to Nephew
The Shari’a Court 1, Magajin Gari, Kaduna, on Thursday ordered a 60-year-old man, Jaafar Salisu to return properties in his care, inherited by his nephew, Ibrahim Musa, after the death of the boy’s father. Read more
The sixty-second session of the Commission on the Status of Women will take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 12 to 23 March 2018. This year’s priority theme is Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls. Read more
West African Civil Society Institute – Call For Application
The West African Civil Society Institute is currently accepting applications for the Results-Based Monitoring and Evaluation/ Communicating Impact Course scheduled for 14-18 May 2018. The training course is designed to equip development practitioners with requisite project-related monitoring and evaluation tools and competencies. The course will enable you to professionally. Read more
The Education Partnership (TEP) Centre Open Enrolment Workshop
Open Enrolment Workshop is a capacity development initiative of TEP Centre, to deliver training and workshop for individuals/organisations in the development sector. The broad theme of the workshop is “Basic introduction to Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning systems.” It will hold on the 5th of April 2018. For more information and enrolment, kindly contact Akinwunmi on email@example.com
Osinbajo, CJN, Saraki for NBA Criminal Justice conference
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), Senate President Bukola Saraki and Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen are among dignitaries expected at the fifth NBA Criminal Justice Reform Conference. The three-day event, which will hold in Asaba, Delta State from March 21 to 24, is organised by the NBA Criminal Justice Reform Committee chaired by Chief Arthur Obi-Okafor (SAN). Read more
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LEDAP CALLS THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT TO STAND UP AGAINST GENDER INEQUALITY
As the world marks the International women’s day, LEDAP lends its voice to that of the global activists, global governments, and women’s organizations to press for the progress of all women in all spheres of life and particularly for gender equality.
LEDAP recognizes the gains in women’s rights advocacy in the recent years ridden on the back of active campaigns for women’s progress. It is apparent that the eras where women were satisfied with being subjugated and subdued have phased out and a new dawn of free-expression and voicing-out against the oppression and tyranny of parochial society is at the horizon.
LEDAP particularly recognizes the active social media campaigns against sexual violence and abuse of women highlighted by the #MeToo and #Timesup movement, the involvement of several women in politics vying for the high offices which were hitherto inconceivable aspirations for women, the outcry against sexual violation of women in the work place and several other cases. LEDAP however admits that despite these pockets of achievements there is still much to be done for the actualization of gender equality in Nigeria.
LEDAP observes that in Nigeria several women especially those in the rural areas remain exploited, discriminated against and are unable to actualize their dreams due to illiteracy and lack of enabling environment. Many of these women do not get a fair opportunity for progress in politics, employment and have no access to reproductive health services. Women in the internally displaced camps have encountered all forms of sexual and gender based violence including sexual exploitation often in exchange for food and other necessities. These women exist in several societies as the voiceless women for whom the press for progress has remained largely illusive.
LEDAP expresses concern that in Nigeria the issues of women’s rights such as the need to create an enabling environment for women in the Nigerian society to receive expression and attain self actualization has not received much attention and many bills to address these grey areas have not been passed under the current President Buhari-led administration. LEDAP believes the confinement of women to the “kitchen” or “the other room” does not align with global trends and civilized existence and Nigeria Government has a major role to play in the emancipation of the Nigerian woman.
LEDAP beckons on the government to take immediate steps to ensure the domestication and implementation of the convention on the elimination of discrimination against women (CEDAW) and the protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of women in Africa.
LEDAP therefore uses the commemoration of this day to advocate for the voiceless women and girls who continue to live daily facing discrimination, violation and abuse. LEDAP calls on the Nigerian government at Federal and State level to create an enabling environment for women empowerment and ensure equal rights for all women in all spheres of life; access to education, access to reproductive services, equal pay for equal work as well as protection from all forms of violence.
FOR: Legal Defence & Assistance Project-LEDAP
Download press release below:
The need for citizens of the world to rise up in defence of their fundamental human rights, was the trust of this year’s commemoration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UDHR.The United Nations General Assembly, 69 years ago adopted the UDHR as Resolution 217 at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France on December 10, 1948. Already, the United Nations has kicked off a year-long campaign to mark the upcoming 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The world body has started a campaign with hash tag #Stand Up 4HumanRights. According to the United Nations, UN, the UDHR is a document that proclaimed the inalienable rights which everyone is entitled to as a human being-regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Already, the document has been translated into more than 500 languages across the world. The document which was drafted by representatives of diverse legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, sets out universal values and a common standard of achievement for all people and nations. It establishes the equal dignity and worth of every person. The principles enshrined in the Declaration are as relevant today as they were in 1948. The campaign by the world body is that everyone needs “to stand up for our own rights and those of others.” The questions that still agitate citizens of the world, particularly Nigerians as he world mark the Day remains: “ Has the dignity of the people been uplifted and the foundation for a more just world been built?” The struggle for a just society and anticipation for a better living has become one of the major issues bordering the minds of every reasonable Nigerians. Vanguard Law and Human Rights got reactions of Nigerians and some civil society groups on this issue. Let government implement socio-economic rights —NHRC Lagos zone Mr. Lucas Koyejo, Zonal Coordinator, Lagos zone National Human Rights Commission, NHRC said the body held a sensitization programme with pupils and students with the theme: “Our Rights, Our Freedom Always. “We should stand up for our rights all the time. Our focus is for the Federal Government to step up actions on the National Action Plan on Human Rights in ensuring that human rights of the citizenry are realised. “The rights are specifically based on social economic rights of the people. There is need for more action by the government to ensure that Nigerians enjoy the benefit of democracy by ensuring that the provisions in Chapter 2 of the 1999 are realisable, that is that the economic and social rights of Nigerians are achievable. “The message is that every person, especially, the youths should be made to know the provision of the UDHR. “The commemoration of the UDHR, established on December 10, 1948, is an event worthy of celebration every year. My advise is that every Nigerian should be active in the protection of his or her fundamental rights by holding the government and political office holders accountable for upholding the human rights of the citizenry.” Another rights group, Access to Justice, AJ in a statement by its Deputy Director, Dr. Adenike Aiyedun, said: “As the United Nations has said on several occasions, human rights are inalienable rights and every state is under an obligation to respect, promote, defend and protect the rule of law. The rule of law requires respect for the principles of supremacy of the law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, public participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency by all arms of government. Some of these precepts have, however, not been duly observed by the government of the day. “With the present state of affairs in the country, unfortunately, the significance of “human rights day” for Nigerians will be a pale one. Practical evidence shows that the Nigerian government regards the rule of law and human rights as expendable obligations and rights and will readily sacrifice these values for any cause of action it chooses to take, without due regard for the protection of the rights of its citizens. “With the recent activities of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, he has managed to re-create an era of imperial Presidency, where no one is able to hold off the powers of the State and no court can compel the State to respect its decisions. “The present administration has exhibited and continues to exhibit no regard for court orders, by willfully disobeying and flouting various court orders and rulings, thereby undermining the role of the judiciary. “Furthermore, some State security officers have exhibited excessive forms of brutality and on some occasions leading to death. Under President Buhari’s government, thousands of Nigerians have lost their lives to State violence perpetrated by forces of the State. “We hereby urges President Buhari to repair the huge damage done to the security and enjoyment of human rights of Nigerians, as well as, the rule of law in the country. In order to do this, we ask the President to lead by example and show more accountable leadership whenever there are human rights violations. We also implore him to respect the authority of courts, urgently reform the institutions of law enforcement and security, and bring to justice all those who have gravely violated the rights of others.” Also, Legal Defence and Assistance Project, LEDAP in a statement by its Executive Programmes Director, Adaobi Egboka, on the state of human rights in the country at present, said “LEDAP observes that Nigeria is at a critical stage where the questions of human rights and its priority in our national existence must be seriously regarded by the Nigerian Government. “LEDAP is greatly concerned over the frequent coercive interaction of law enforcement agencies, the military and other security agencies with civilians which brings to the fore the need for more to be done by the current President Buhari led administration in the area of human rights protection. “The recent end SARS campaign, the move by the federal legislators to regulate the NGOs, the widely reported cases of inhuman treatment of civilians by the soldiers in different forms of “dances” are but a few human rights questions in our recent past. “It is worrisome that despite Nigeria’s adoption of major International human rights instruments and the incorporation of human rights in the constitution, human rights protection in Nigeria remains appalling. “LEDAP recommends that proper training of law enforcement agencies on the imperative duty to respect human rights is necessary to reduce the unlawful infraction of human rights. “We also recommends legislative action and strongly advocates for the decriminalization of “petty offences” under Nigerian penal statutes as their criminalization has not served the end of justice or rehabilitation but have rather being a tool for wrongful arrests, increased criminality, illegal detention without proper trial, bribery and Human rights violations. “LEDAP therefore, calls on the government to uphold international legal obligations and incorporate constitutional and institutional reforms at all levels with the overall objective of advancing the cause of human rights.” Similarly, Human Rights Monitoring Agenda, HURMA’s Convener/Executive Director, Mr Buna Isiak, on the need for Nigerians to be mindful of their rights, attributed the frustration in the country to the breaches in the fundamental rights of many Nigerians. At a seminar to mark the day, he said “Today is an opportunity for us to know where we are in term of human rights. We see people leaving the country everyday, this is as a result of breaches in fundamental human rights. That is why HURMA is enlightening people about what constitutes their rights and we are encouraging them to fight for these rights.” A Lagos-based lawyer, Dr. Muiz Banire, SAN, attributed human rights breaches in the country, to the ignorance of Nigerians to their rights, which he said contributed to the suffering of many in the country. The lawyer urged Nigerians “To go and learn more about their rights because there is too much ignorance about their rights, that is why the suffering in the land will continue.” A Lagos State House of Assembly member representing Shomolu Constituency 1, Emmanuel Olowo, called on Nigerians to be active in the electoral processes in the country, as it was their right, if they desire to be free from the burden of those who governing them. He said: “Nigerians should be active in choosing their leaders. They should choose leaders that will make them to achieve their purpose in life, choose the leaders that will make them achieve their hearty desires, choose leaders that will protect their welfare and provide security for them. All these can only be achieved by the power of their vote and if they know their rights.”
Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/12/intl-human-rights-day-must-stand-rights-csos/