JURISDICTION – JURISDICTION OF THE STATE/FEDERAL HIGH COURT – Whether the Federal and State High Court have concurrent jurisdiction to entertain matters on enforcement of fundamental rights


“The crux of this appeal is the scope of the jurisdiction of the State and Federal High Courts with respect to enforcement of fundamental rights. This Court, in answer to this question, had this to say, in the case of EFCC v. REINL (2020) 49387 SC: “…In determining this issue, I deem it necessary to set out the relevant provisions of Section 46(1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, for ease of reference. “46(1) Any person who alleges that any of the provisions of this chapter has been, is being or is likely to be contravened in any State in relation to him may apply to a High Court for redress” …It is also evident from Section 46(1) of the Constitution that a person seeking to enforce his fundamental rights may seek redress in any High Court.” In Federal University of Technology Minna, Niger State & Ors v. Bukola Oluwaseun Olutayo (2017) LPELR-43827 (SC), it was further held: “It is quite evident that Section 46(1) [of the 1999 Constitution, as amended] above refers to “a High Court of a State” without any restriction. The violation of a citizen’s fundamental right is reviewed so seriously that the framers of the Constitution sought to ensure that no fetters are placed in the path of a citizen seeking to enforce his rights. In other words, the provision ensures that he has access to any High Court as long as it is within the State in which the alleged infraction occurred. Indeed it would negate the principle behind the guarantee if fundamental rights if a citizen were to have any obstacle placed in the path of enforcing those rights. There is no ambiguity in the provisions of the Constitution or of the fundamental rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules… regarding which Court has jurisdiction to entertain an application for the enforcement of fundamental rights.” See also: Jim Jaja v. COP, Rivers State & Ors (2012) LPELR 20621 SC I adopt the views so expressed by this Court in the above cited cases, in the determination of this appeal. It is also my view that so long as the enforcement of the Applicant’s fundamental right is the main claim in the suit and not an ancillary claim, the Federal High Court and State High Courts, including the High Court of the FCT, have concurrent jurisdiction to entertain it.” Per ABDU ABOKI, JSC in INSP. GABRIEL v. UKPABIO & ORS (2022-LCER-46524-SC) (Pp 32 – 34; Paras F – E)

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