By Jonathan Ugbal
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A High Court of 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 Mr. 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, Mr. Isa told CrossRiverWatch that he will approach the Court of Appeal.
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