Lagos Tax Requirement: Group Appeals Judgement

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The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal has been contacted by the non-governmental organization ISH-61 Human Rights and Social Justice Initiative to review the State High Court’s decision to dismiss its lawsuit challenging the Lagos State Government’s “policy” that makes parent/guardian tax payment or clearance a requirement for children to attend public primary and public junior secondary schools in the state.

Oluwatosin Adegun and Oluyemi Fajuyitan, attorneys for the incorporated trustees of the NGO, filed the notice of appeal on behalf of and on behalf of the NGO’s target audience, underprivileged children in Lagos.

However, a time for the appeal’s hearing has not yet been set by the Court of Appeal.

The Lagos State Government and three other parties were the targets of an action brought by ISH-61 at the State High Court (in Suit No. for the enforcement of children’s rights to free and required basic education in state-run schools in Lagos (ID/14042MFHR/22).

They insist that it is the state government’s duty to guarantee free and required basic education up to the junior secondary school level in the State, particularly for the state’s underprivileged children.

In addition to the Lagos State Government, they listed the State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice as respondents in the lawsuit, along with the State’s Commissioner for Education, the State’s Universal Basic Education Board, and the State’s Commissioner for Education.

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”.

Justice Gbadebo Oshoala dismissed the applicant’s lawsuit in January 2023 due to a lack of jurisdiction.

The court determined that the right to education is not a matter of law and that the lawsuit failed to establish a valid cause of action against the State Government.

The applicant has now appealed the judgment at the Court of Appeal, raising 14 (fourteen) grounds for appeal from which it raised four (4) issues for the determination in its brief of argument, namely:

  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.

The right to education is a justiciable right, so ISH-61 is requesting that the Court of Appeal accept the appeal and rule that the high court has jurisdiction to hear the case because a justifiable cause of action was established against the Respondents.

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