Falana tells court to compel FG, states to provide free pry, junior sec education

Activist-lawyer Femi Falana, SAN, has asked the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to compel the Federal Government, the 36 states of the federation and Abuja to provide free and compulsory education up to junior secondary school level.

Falana and his co-plaintiff/applicant Hauwa Mustapha filed the suit marked FHC/L/CS/142/2024, for themselves and on behalf of the Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond.

The 40 defendants/respondents are the Attorney-General of the Federation, Minister of Education and Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, the Attorneys-General of the 36 states, and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Specifically, the plaintiffs are seeking a declaration that by virtue of section 2(1) of the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act, 2004 the Respondents are legally obligated to provide free, compulsory and Universal basic education for every Nigerian child of primary and junior secondary, school age.

A declaration that by virtue of section 11(1) of the Compulsory Free Universal Basic Education Act the Federal Government shall contribute a block grant of not less than 2% of its Consolidated Revenue Fund to the Universal Basic Education Fund on an annual basis.

A declaration that by virtue of section 11(2) of the Compulsory Free Universal Basic Education Act, each State of the Federation shall contribute not less than 50% of the total cost of projects as its commitment in the execution of the projects to qualify for the Federal Government block grant pursuant to sub-section 1(l) of this section.

A declaration that the refusal or failure of the Respondents to access the sum of N68 billion for the universal basic education of children of school age in Nigeria is illegal as it violates section 11(2) of the Compulsory Free Universal Basic Education Act.

An order directing the 4th-40th Respondents to pay the counterpart fund to access the matching grant of N68 billion in the Account of the Universal Basic Education Fund and report compliance with the order within 30 days of the delivery of the judgment of this court.

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An order directing the 4th-40th Respondents to pay the counterpart fund to access the matching grant in the Account of the Universal Basic Education Fund as and when due forthwith.

When the matter came up for hearing on Wednesday February 14, 2024, before Justice Daniel E. Osiagor of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.

Falana’s lawyer, Taiwo Olawanle moved an ex-parte application for substituted service of the Originating motion to be served on all the states of the federation who are parties through their liaison houses in Lagos.

Justice Osiagor granted Olawanle’s application.

He ordered that all the states of the federation be served the originating processes and other subsequent processes through their liaison houses in Lagos.

He adjourned till May 20, 2024, for hearing.

In his affidavit in support of the motion, Falana stated that “in view of the fact that the 4th to 40th Respondents have failed to comply with section 3 of the Education Reforms Act which mandates them to contribute half (50%) of the total cost of projects to be executed in the State as their commitment to the execution of the projects, and their failure to access the matching grants; I wrote a letter and also issued a public statement calling the attention of the said 4th to 40th respondents to the need to access the matching grant.

“As at the date of filling of this suit; none of the Defendants have complied with the request/demand made by the Applicants while children of school age have continued to roam the streets.”

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