Enforcement of fundamental human Rights in Nigerian courts: practice and procedure

Ambali Abdulazeez Muhammed is a student of law, at university of maiduguri, Borno state. He is C.E.O of LAW AMPHITHEATER and he is so much interested in poem, academic writing.
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The Enforcement of fundamental human Rights in Nigerian courts: practice and procedure.

Under the administration of justice in Nigeria, Fundamental human rights are duly recognised as an important rights of human. As a result, they were entrenched in the 1999 constitution by way of protecting this rights. In case of violations, the law had laid down procedure that an applicants need to follow. Compliance to same is a must. Must actions bordering on fundamental human rights are often rejected by court in Nigeria due to non compliance with rules. As a result of this, people do have the believe that our rights are only stated in books and can never be enforce in court. This, i must say is an erroneous assumption. The court as it is, is a court of law, and not a court of justice. For you to maintain an action for violation of your rights, conditions precedent for same must be complied with. In a bid to cure this erroneous assumption, this article will unravel the procedures that must be taken for an applicant to succeed in actions bordering on fundamental human rights enforcement.


The provision of section 46(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria empowers the Chief Justice of Nigeria to make rule with respect to the Practice and Procedure to be adopted in dealing with actions under the Fundamental Rights provisions of Chapter IV of the Constitution. Accordingly, the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rule have been made under Chapter IV of the Constitution to commence from 1st of January 1980 but new Rules of Court have been made in 2009.

In construing the various Orders and Rules under the Enforcement Procedure Rules, the Court have had course to construed the Rules as they relates to the issue of limitation of actions, enlargement of time, time within which actions can be filed and effect of non compliance with the Rules, etc.

The manner in which the application for the enforcement of fundamental rights under Chapter IV of the 1999 can be brought, is irrelevant once it is clear that such application seeks redress for infringement of the rights so guaranteed under the Constitution. An applicant seeking to enforce a provision under Chapter IV of the Constitution has to commence his/her action by way of originating motion.

As a condition precedent to the commencement of an action for the enforcement of fundamental rights under the Fundamental Rights ( Enforcement Procedure) Rules1979, the applicant must obtain the leave of the Court to bring the application. See The Registered Trustees F.T.C.C.N Vs Ikwechiegh (2000) 13 NWLR (Pt.683) 1.

The application for leave must be by Ex-parte supported by a statement setting out the name and description of the Applicant, the relief sought and an affidavit verifying the facts relied on. See Order 1 Rule 2(3) of the Fundamental Rights ( Enforcement Procedure) Rules. The Court will not Grant leave to apply for an order under the Rules unless the application is made within 12 months from the date of the happening of the event complained of . In other words, a law suit for the enforcement of right is statutorily limited and becomes statutorily barred if not brought within 12 months from the day of the breach.

It must be noted as well that the affidavit verifying the fact required under Order 1 Rule 2 (3) of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules is a condition precedent to granting leave to enforce fundamental rights. This is because at this stage, the proceedings is Ex-parte and the order to be made would be on the facts, as such the facts must be verified by an affidavit.

The applicant is required to set out the facts relied upon in the statement in support. The statement of fact should not be on oath. After setting out the fact, an Applicant is then required to verify on oath the facts relied on. See Oyewole Vs Shehu (1995) 8 NWLR (Pt. 414) 484.

The Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure)

Rules are not mere adjectival Rules of Court amenable to be changed or manoeuvred by a Party. Observance of these rules is as fundamental as the entrenched rights, and an applicant who wants to successfully enforce his fundamental rights must carefully observe the rules. Hence, strict compliance with the provision of Order 2 Rule 4 requiring filing of affidavit of service is a condition precedent without which an application under the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules will not be competent.
See Agbakoba Vs S.S.S (1994) 6 NWLR (Pt.351) 415, 500; The State Vs Commissioner of Police: Re Apollo (1987) 4 NWLR (Pt.63) 121; Paulinus Nwaeze Vs C.O.P & Ors (2001) 1 cases on Human Rights page 449; Bashiru Akanji Olasupo Vs University of Benin suit No. B/197/95 reported in vol. 2 Nigerian Police Interest Litigation by Jiti Ogunye Pg 433; Comrade Christopher Egwuasi & Ors Vs Commissioner of Police Imo State & Ors. (2006) cases on Human Right 200
Also Read:
How to file Action for enforcement of human right
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