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HomeNewsEducationFalana Drags Tinubu’s Govt, 36 States To Court Over Out-of-school Children Issue

Falana Drags Tinubu’s Govt, 36 States To Court Over Out-of-school Children Issue

Human Rights Activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, has taken legal action against the Federal Government, the Minister of Education, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), and all 36 states of the federation in relation to the issue of out-of-school children in the country.

News360 Info understands that Falana, along with an expert in early childhood education, filed the lawsuit on behalf of themselves and the Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond, represented by Hauwa Mustapha.

The lawsuit is centred around the failure to utilize the N68 billion funds allocated by the Universal Basic Education Commission to provide free basic education for every Nigerian child of school age.

Additionally, the Attorneys General of all 36 states and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, have been named as respondents in the lawsuit, which was filed by Funmi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, acting as their legal representative.

The suit dated January 19th at the Federal High Court, Lagos, asks 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 section 2(1) of the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act, LFN, 2004.

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.

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 section 2(1) of the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act, LFN, 2004.”

In a sworn affidavit submitted by Femi Falana at the Federal High Court Registry in Lagos on January 26, 2024, the esteemed attorney highlighted that the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recently disclosed a report.

This report revealed a staggering estimation of 20.2 million out-of-school children in Nigeria.

Falana further emphasized that the report also indicated that one out of every three children in the country is deprived of education, making Nigeria the nation with the highest number of out-of-school children globally.

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.

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

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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.”

The applicants are asking the court to grant the following orders in the interest of justice:

“A declaration that by 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.

A declaration that by 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 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 to the execution of the projects to qualify for the Federal Government block grant under subsection 1(1) 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 1(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 the Honourable court.

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

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