A High Court in Cross River State presided over by Justice Bassey Ebute has dismissed a suit seeking interpretation of relevant sections of the State’s Universal Basic Education Law, 2006 which provides for free, compulsory basic education because the claimant lacks locus standi.
Rights activist, Citizen Agba Jalingo had through his lawyer, Baba Isa Esq. approached the Court over claims that pupils were being sent home for not paying fees and other levies. He sought the court to determine two questions and sought four reliefs.
The Governor of Cross River State, the Government of Cross River State, the Attorney-General, the Ministry of Quality Education, the Commissioner for Quality Education, the State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB, and the Chairman of SUBEB were listed as first to seventh defendants respectively.
Justice Ebute who delayed four hours before stepping out of his chambers to read the judgment at 1:00 PM, in the suit number HC/91/2022, upheld the preliminary objection raised by the defendants that Jalingo has no locus standi to have filed for the claims. This means that he had no civil right to approach the Court on the matter for determination.
Justice Ebute held that “the basis of his claims does not exist”, hence, “the preliminary objection stands”.
After dismissing the suit, Justice Ebute proceeded to look at the merits of the reliefs sought and held that, “the words should be given their ordinary and literal meaning”.
He further held that: “The law has, itself, specified the applicable items that constitute what free, compulsory basic education means.”
The Counsel to the defendants, Tanko Ashang Esq. declined to comment. But, Isa told Newsmen that he will approach the Court of Appeal.
Meanwhile, a High Court in Cross River State sitting in Calabar and presided over by Justice Bassey Ebute had earlier awarded damages to the sum of NGN7.5million against the respondents in suit number HC/22F/2022 for infringing on the fundamental human rights of one Benjamin Seshe.
The Inspector-General of Police, the Commissioner of Police Cross River State, the Nigeria Police Force, CP Joseph Agaji (rtd), and Anthony Elor were listed as first to fifth respondents respectively.
In his judgment delivered on Tuesday, Justice Ebute held that Agaji used his influence as a retired Commissioner of Police to procure them to arrest and lock up Seshe for over a month.
Justice Ebute ordered that the first, second, and third respondents pay the applicant, NGN5million while the fourth and fifth respondents were ordered to pay the applicants the sum of NGN2.5million jointly, and severally.
A press release from the Counsel to the applicant, First Baba Isa quoted Seshe saying that he is ready to make peace with CP Agaji to put to rest the “ugly crisis that emanated from a chieftaincy tussle in Ebung Community, in Bansara, Ogoja.
“However, he said that the entire community has vowed that for every member of the community CP Agaji (rtd) got arrested, or will get arrested in the future, they will approach the court to seek redress.
“Other members of the community who were locked up for several months by the police at the instance of (CP) Agaji (rtd) are still in court seeking redress.”