Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja yesterday declared as enforceable, the right of every Nigerian to free and compulsory primary and junior secondary education.
Tsoho also ruled that federal and state governments have constitutional duties to provide adequate funds for free education.
The court held that failure by any arm of government to fund free primary and junior secondary education would constitute a breach of the Constitution.
The judge noted that the right to free education in section 18(3) (a) of the Constitution was ordinarily not enforceable, being in chapter two of the Constitution.
But, he added that since the National Assembly enacted the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act of 2004, it had made that provision of the Constitution an enforceable right.
Justice Tsoho delivered the judgment 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.
LEDAP had asked the court to among others, 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.
The court stated that it relied on the Supreme Court’s decision in Attorney General of Ondo State and Others Vs. Attorney General of the Federation (2002) 9 NWLR (Pt. 772) 222 to arrive at the judgment.
In the suit, it was held that the provisions of Chapter 2 of the Constitution, even though they are not enforceable by virtue of section 6(6)(b) of the constitution, could be made enforceable or justiciable by legislation.