The Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009-herein after referred to as the FREPR- is ten (10) years old this year (i.e. 2019) having been made in the year 2009 by the then Chief Justice of Nigeria pursuant to the enabling Constitutional powers enabling him to make the Rules under the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended)-herein after referred to as the Constitution-, after a long period of thirty (30) years since the FREPR of 1979 was made. A consideration of the duration between the FREPR of 1979 and that of the current 2009 which was a long period of thirty (30) years called for my attention to actually ask whether there is actually any duration for a review or what will be the duration for reviewing one Rules to the other by the Honourable, the Chief Justice of Nigeria? These are the considerations of this paper.
Under the 1979 FREPR, applicants then had to suffer a lot under the difficulties of reviewing the Rules by the then Chief Justice of Nigeria. More so, one must have sensed that it would have definitely been difficult to review such Rules considering the reign of the military dictatorship which continued to break into one democratic system of government and the other until 1999 when democracy was restored back. Even from that time, 1999 (when the 1999 Constitution was enacted), till 2009 when the 2009 FREPR was made was a period of ten (10) years. So, if it took ten (10) years from 1999 to 2009 to review the 1979 Rules (more so, from the period of 1979 to 1999, which was a period of twenty (20) years), the nation did not enjoy the reign of democracy because the democratic governments were at different occasions suspended by one military coup or the other, even though it is very unfortunate that those who governed Nigeria and her people in the military era are still those ruling or in power in democracy till date, as history has records of these facts), then, from 1999 (a new beginning of democracy) to the 2009 was a period of ten (10) years. So, from such 2009 to 2019 is another period of ten (10) years for a review of the Rules, though, I am not aware of any law that mandates or lays down any duration for a review at a particular time (in fact, since the powers to make those Rules are pursuant to the Constitution, then, it means the Constitution is the relevant law to consider whether there is any duration or not and not the provision of any statute which makes the making of the Rules a discretion of the Honourable, the Chief Justice of Nigeria), I humbly request the Honourable, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (or any person acting in his capacity) to review the FREPR of 2009 in the interest of advancing the enforcement of the human rights of Nigerian citizens.
Furthermore and having said the above, I had written two (2) different letters to the Honourable, the Chief Justice of Nigeria both in 2018 and 2019 respectively recommending My Lord, pursuant to Section 46(3) of the Constitution, for: (1) a ‘no chargeable fees’ on enforcement of fundamental rights actions; (2) establishment of special panel courts in High Courts in Nigeria to hear fundamental rights enforcement cases; and (3) establishment of a Fundamental Rights Enforcement Monitoring Committee. And ( of recent in 2019) recommending that the Honourable, the Chief Justice of Nigeria: (i) should utilize his powers pursuant to the section 46(3) of the Constitution and other enabling sections of the Constitution and the Interpretation Act, by making and or amending the provisions of the current FREPR or by passing a Practice Direction on Rules and Procedures on the Service and execution in a State or High Court of the fundamental rights processes, judgments, decrees, orders and other decisions of any court of law outside Nigeria or any court of law in Nigeria so far it pertains to the fundamental rights enforcement suits, which will depart from the provisions of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act and its accompanying subsidiary legislations especially the careless (and militant) provisions of requirement for consent of the Attorney-General of the Federation or of the State before such moneys awarded to an Applicant under the Rules, can be garnished. (ii) set up a Committee to immediately consider means of implementation of the research work submitted to His Lordship.
It is the above recommendations that I still humbly recommend to the Honourable, the Chief Justice of Nigeria to consider at the time His Lordship is prepared to review the Rules.
Furthermore, I humbly recommend that the Nigerian Bar Association too should utilize this opportunity to set up a Committee of human rights activists (lawyers) across the nation who would review the FREPR of 2009 with improvement and advancement in the enforcement of the human rights of the citizens (and not to cause the Rules to be useless and or restricted for personal reasons), after which the Association should make its recommendations to the Honourable, the Chief Justice of Nigeria for his necessary consideration (this is in line with the Constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association as provided in Section 3(k) of its Constitution which provides to promote and protect the principles of rule of law and respect for enforcement of fundamental rights, human rights and people’s rights. Human rights activists are also encouraged to make recommendations to the Honourable, the Chief Justice of Nigeria for a review of the FREPR, 2009.
Finally, I am of the humble submission that the current FREPR is due for review by the Honourabe, the Chief Justice of Nigeria. I am also of the recommendation that at least, at every five (5) years and maximum period of ten (10) years, any FREPR in force should always be reviewed most especially, in line with the overriding objectives of the Rules as enumerated in the preamble to the Rules. I also hope that my recommendations made and submitted to the Honourable, the Chief Justice of Nigeria would be given deserving considerations and approval for the purpose of advancing the fundamental or human rights of Nigerian citizens and not swept under the carpet. I also hope that the Nigerian Bar Association would set up a Committee to consider a review of the said FREPR without any delay and human rights activists too would stand up for the clarion call for review of the FREPR, 2009.
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