HomeNewsGroup Appeals Judgment On Tax Condition For Lagos Public School Enrolment

Group Appeals Judgment On Tax Condition For Lagos Public School Enrolment

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A non-governmental organisation, ISH-61 Human Rights and Social Justice Initiative, has approached the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division to test the decision of the State High Court which dismissed its suit challenging the Lagos State Government’s “policy” which makes parent/guardian’s tax payment or clearance a condition for children to access public primary and public junior secondary schools in the state.

The incorporated trustees of the NGO filed the notice of appeal through their lawyers, Oluwatosin Adegun and Oluyemi Fajuyitan for and on behalf of disadvantaged children in Lagos.

The Court of Appeal is however yet to fix a date for the hearing of the appeal.

By an Originating Summons dated 26th August 2022, ISH-61 had instituted the action at the State High Court against the Lagos State Government, and three others (in Suit No. ID/14042MFHR/22) for the enforcement of the rights of children in Lagos to free and compulsory basic education in the state-owned schools.

They insist that the state government has the responsibility to provide for free and compulsory basic education up to the junior secondary school level in the State, especially for disadvantaged children in the state.

Apart from the Lagos State Government, they listed the State’s Commissioner for Education, the State’s Universal Basic Education Board and the State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice as the three other respondents in the suit.

The applicants sought Seven (7) reliefs including:
“A DECLARATION that by Sections 39(1), Section 14(1) Child’s Rights Law of Lagos State 2007, Sections 13(1), 14 of the Compulsory Free Universal Basic Education Law, 2005, Article 11(1), (3) (a), (d) and (e) of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, every child in Lagos State has the right to free and compulsory basic education irrespective of economic and/or tax compliant status of his/her parents/guardians.”

“A DECLARATION that the Respondents’ inclusion of tax clearance of parents/guardians as one of the conditions for a child to enroll in Lagos State owned public primary and public junior secondary school in Lagos State is a violation/potential violation of a child’s right to free and compulsory basic education guaranteed under Section 39(1), Section 14(1) Child’s Rights Law of Lagos State 2007, Section 13(1), 14 of the Compulsory Free Universal Basic Education Law, 2005, Article 11(1),(3)(a),(d) and (e) of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child”.

“A DECLARATION that the Respondents’ sale of registration forms to parents/guardians for enrolment of their children/wards in Lagos State-owned public primary and public junior secondary schools in Lagos state has rendered basic education non-free, thereby a violation of a child’s right to free and compulsory basic education guaranteed under Section 39(1), Section 14(1) Child’s Rights Law of Lagos State 2007, Section 13(1), 14 Compulsory Free Universal Basic Education Law, 2005, Article 11(1),(3)(a),(d) and (e) of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child”.

In January 2023, Justice Gbadebo Oshoala struck out the Applicant’s suit citing a lack of jurisdiction.
The court held that the suit did not disclose a reasonable cause of action against the State Government and that the right to education is not justiciable.

The Applicant has now appealed the decision at the Court of Appeal and raised 14 (fourteen) grounds of appeal from which it raised Four (4) issues for the determination in its Brief of Argument to wit:

1. Whether the Originating process (Originating Summons and Affidavit in support dated 26th August 2022) discloses reasonable cause of action against the Respondents.

2. Whether the reliefs sought by the Appellant fall under fundamental rights and enforceable under Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules 2009, and thereby justiciable.

3. Whether the Respondents’ demand for parents’/guardians’ tax payment as condition for their children/wards to access basic education in Lagos State owned primary and junior secondary schools constitutes a violation/potential violation of the right of children to basic education which the law guaranteed to be free and compulsory for every child.

4. Whether the Respondents’ sale of registration forms to parents/guardians for enrolment of their children/wards in Lagos State owned public primary and public junior secondary schools in Lagos State has rendered basic education non-free, thereby a violation of the right of the child to free and compulsory basic education.

ISH-61 is asking the Court of Appeal to allow the appeal and hold that the high court has jurisdiction to determine the suit as a reasonable cause of action was shown against the Respondents and the right to education is a justiciable right.

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