BREAKING: Falana, Other Sue Nigerian Education Minister, AGF, FCT Minister, 36 State Attorneys General Over Out-of-school Children, Compulsory Free Education

They also want the court to give 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”.

ASenior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana and Hauwa Mustapha have sued the Attorney General of Federation, the education minister, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), the Attorneys General of the 36 states of the Federation and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja over the education of Nigeria child of school age.

 

The suit filed by the duo on behalf of themselves and the Alliance on Surviving Covid-19 and Beyond has the Attorney General of the Federation, Minister of Education, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) as the 1st to 3rd Respondents and the Attorneys General of the 36 states as the 4th to the 39th Respondents.

 

The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja is the 40th Respondent.

 

In the suit, the Applicants are asking the Federal High Court in Lagos to give 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 Honourable Court.

 

They also want the court to give 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”.

 

They are also asking the court to declare “that by virtue of section 2(1) of the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 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”.

 

Other declarations sought are “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,” “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,” and “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”.

 

The Applicants are also asking the court to determine whether “the Respondents are not under a legal obligation to provide free, compulsory and Universal basic education for every Nigerian child of school age by virtue of section 2(1) of the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act, LFN, 2004”.

 

They also want the court to determine whether “the refusal or failure of the Respondents to contribute not less than 50% of the total cost of projects as its commitment to the execution of the free, compulsory education project for every Nigerian child of school age is illegal as it violates section 11(2) of the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004,” and “whether 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, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004”.

 

In an affidavit sworn to by Femi Falana at the Federal High Court Registry in Lagos on January 26, 2024, the senior lawyer noted that a report made public by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recently estimated the total number of out-of-school children in Nigeria to be 20.2 million.

 

He noted that the report added that one in three children in the country is out of school and that the country has the highest number of out-of -school children in the world.

 

He said, “The 1st Respondent is the Minister of Justice and the Chief Law officer of the Federation to enforce law and order and ensure compliance with all orders granted by Nigerian courts.

 

“The 1st Respondent is the National Authority appointed by the Federal Government to enforce the orders granted by the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States.

 

“The 2nd Respondent is constitutionally responsible for the formulation of educational policies and ensuring quality control at all levels of education in Nigeria.

 

“The 3rd Respondent is the body created by the Universal Basic Education and Other Matters Act, 2004 (UBEA) responsible for the disbursement of the Federal Government Universal Basic Education grants to states and other stakeholders and the coordination of the implementation of the UBE programme throughout Nigeria.

 

“The 4th to 40th Respondents are the chief law officers of the 36 states of the Federation.

 

“That the Universal Basic Education and Other Matters Act, 2004 (UBEA) provides for compulsory, free universal basic education for all children of primary and junior secondary school age in Nigeria.”

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