*Calls On The Court Of Appeal To Take A Definitive Stand On The Issue

A prolific writer and digital rights lawyer, Olumide Babalola, has written the President of the Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Monica Dongban Mensem over the uncertainty of competence of joint application for enforcement of fundamental rights in Nigeria.

Babalola, in the letter dated September 27, 2021 sighted by TheNigeriaLawyer mentioned six cases decided in 2020 and 2021 where conflicting positions were given. Whilst the Ibadan Division Of Court of Appeal held that joint application is competent, five other cases held otherwise.

He called on the PCA to empanel five Justices of the Court of Appeal to take a definitive position on the issue.

Read the letter below

September 27, 2021.

Hon. Justice Monica Dongban Mensem, PCA

The President

Court of Appeal

Abuja, Nigeria

My Lord,

JOINT APPLICATION FOR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT: THE NEED FOR A DEFINITVIE POSITION BY THE COURT OF APPEAL

I am Lagos-based legal practitioner and frequent litigator on human rights matters.

On the 24th day of September 2021, in an appeal I filed on behalf of the Incorporated Trustees of Digital Rights Lawyers Initiative against the National Identity Management Commission in Appeal No. CA/IB/291/2020, the Ibadan division of the Court of Appeal ruled that a group of persons can validly bring joint applications for the enforcement of their fundamental rights.

It is worthy of note that, in the past 16 months, various divisions of the Court of Appeal have given conflicting decisions on the same issue. For the avoidance of doubt, see the decisions in:

  1. Maitagaran v Dankoli (2020) LPELR 52025(CA) – in favour of joint applications.
  2. Chief of Naval Staff v Archibong (2020) LPELR – 51845(CA) – joint applications are incompetent.
  3. EFCC v Energy Property (CA/ABJ/CV/994/2020) – joint applications are incompetent.
  4. Government of Enugu State v Onya (2021) LPELR – 526688(CA) – in favour of joint applications.
  5. Abuja Electricity Company v Akaliro (2021) LPELR – 54212(CA) – joint applications are incompetent.

My Lord, although our judgment appears to be the most recent on the issue, it remains untidy for our judicial system for litigants not to know where the pendulum would swing next, and therefore it is quite essential for the Court of Appeal to take a definitive position on this all-important constitutional issue.

I thank your lordship for the audience while hoping this issue would empanel a five (5) man bench and settled the issue once and for all when next the Court is faced with such a question.

Respectfully,

Olumide Babalola, Esq.

olumide@oblp.or

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