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The legal framework of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure

What is the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure?

The Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure allows you to challenge human right violations in Nigeria.

What are the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules 2009?

These are the Procedure rules contains the steps and rules for commencing an action for the enforcement of Fundamental Human Rights in Nigeria.

The rules were created by Section 46(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by the Chief Justice of the Federation.

1

What are the objectives of the Rules?

Section 3 of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules lists its overriding objectives among as follows:

(a) To advance and realise the rights and freedoms contained in Chapter IV of the Nigerian Constitution, as well as the African Charter.

(b) To ensure the advancement but never the restriction of the applicant’s rights and freedoms, by the Court’s respect of municipal, regional and international bills of rights

(c) For the Court to be able to make consequential orders as may be just and expedient to ensure the advancement but never the restriction of the applicant’s rights and freedoms.

(d) For the Court to proactively pursue enhanced access to justice for all classes of litigants, especially the poor, the illiterate, the uninformed, the vulnerable, the incarcerated, and the unrepresented.

(e) For the Court to encourage and welcome public interest litigations in the human rights field and ensure that no human rights case is dismissed or struck out for want of locus standi.

(f) To advance Nigerian democracy, good governance, human rights and culture, pursue the speedy and efficient enforcement and realisation of human rights.

(g) To ensure that human rights suits are given priority in deserving cases. Where there is any question as to the liberty of the applicant or any person, the case shall be treated as an emergency

2

What are the rights enforceable under the Rules?

According to the Order II Rule 1 of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Rules:

Any person who alleges that any of the Fundamental Rights provided for in the Constitution or African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act and to which he is entitled, has been, is being, or is likely to be infringed, may apply to the Court in the State where the infringement occurs or is likely to occur, for redress.

This means the procedure can be used to challenge violations of:

-Any of the rights in  Chapter IV of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, and

-Any of the rights in Chapter 1 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, except

-Those excluded in Chapter II of the 1999 Constitution

 

For example, you can seek redress in the court of law for the violation of the following rights:

·         Right to Personal Dignity,

·         Right to Life,

·         Right to Fair Hearing,

·         Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion,

·          Right to Freedom of Expression and the Press,

·         Freedom of Assembly and Association,

·         Freedom of Movement,

·         Right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria

3

Is there a time limit for the commencement of an action under this procedure?

Statute of Limitation under the Fundamental Right Enforcement Procedure Rule

What is a Statute of Limitation?

A statute of limitation is a law that sets a deadline or time limitation from the date of an alleged offence, after which parties can no longer initiate legal proceedings, whether civil or criminal.

In other words, a statute of limitation establishes the time frame by which an injured party may file a lawsuit. Therefore, if you file a legal action after the statute of limitation for an offence, such actions may be barred from proceeding because the time frame for filing a lawsuit has elapsed.

Order III Rule 1 states that an application for the enforcement of fundamental right shall not be affected by any limitation statute whatsoever. Thus, commencing an action to enforce your right will not be affected by any statute of limitations. Thus, you may bring actions to challenge human rights violation within any length of time or period.

However, it is advisable you bring a lawsuit as early as possible, to preserve the necessary evidence that may support a decision in your favor (such as death of witnesses, missing records, loss of memory to remember crucial events, etc).

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