A Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday declared that the every Nigerian child has the constitutional right to free and compulsory primary education and free junior secondary education.
The judgment was delivered in a suit filed by the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) against the Federal Ministry of Education and the Attorney General of the Federation.
The court presided over by Hon Justice J.I. Tsoho noted that the federal and state governments have constitutional duties to provide adequate fund for it.
The court also held that any failure by any government to fund free primary and junior secondary education will constitute breach of the constitution.
The NGO has asked the court to determine whether by the combined effect of section 18(3)(a) of the 1999 Constitution and section 2 (1) of the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act, (UBE) 2004, the right to free and compulsory primary education and free junior secondary education for all qualified Nigerian citizens are enforceable rights in Nigeria.
In his judgement, Justice Tsoho held that by enacting the UBE Act, the National Assemble has made the right to free and compulsory primary and free junior secondary education contained in Chapter 2 an enforceable or justiciable right.
Reacting to the judgment, the lead counsel to LEDAP, Mr. Chino Obiagwu said that ‘the court has today given life and hope to over 28 million Nigerian children who are currently out of primary and junior secondary school or who are at risk of being withdrawn from school because of the inability of their parents or guardians to pay the tuition fees and school expenses, or who are withdrawn from school so that they can be given out in early marriage or be sent to the streets to hawk or beg for alms.
‘By this judgment, any child not enrolled in school or who is withdrawn from school can exercise his or her constitutional rights against the parent or guardian or against the government.