A human rights lawyer, Mr. Desmond Dadu Tabakwot, has filed a fundamental rights enforcement action before the Kaduna State High Court challenging the indefinite closure of schools by Governor Nasir El-Rufai.
In an Originating Motion filed in court made available to ASKLEGALPALACE with Suit No. Suit No.KDH/46/21, Defendants in the suit are the Governor of the State; the Attorney-General of the state and Commissioner of Education as first, second and third Respondents respectively
Tabakwot, who practices in the Law Firm of Messer. Reuben James & Co. said he is suing for and on behalf of Mitchell and Mildred Tabakwot and all the students (in every Nursery, Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Institutions) in Kaduna State and is seeking for a declaration that governor El-Rufai has a constitutional duty and responsibility to ensure the observance, application and enforcement of the objectives set out under section 18 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
He is also seeking a declaration that all the students (in every Nursery, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Institutions) in Kaduna State are entitled to the enjoyment of the objectives set out under section 18 (1) of the Constitution and the rights enshrined under Article 17 (1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
“A DECLARATION that the continuous closure of, and refusal to open the Schools in Kaduna State and the failure of the 1st Respondent to discharge his constitutional duties and responsibilities under section 18 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) amounts to a breach or violation of the right to education of all the students in Kaduna State enshrined and protected under Article 17 (1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
“A DECLARATION that the continuous closure of, and refusal to open all the Schools in Kaduna State and the failure of the 1st Respondent to discharge his constitutional duties and responsibilities under section 18 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) amount to a breach or violation of the right to freedom from discrimination of all the students in Kaduna State enshrined and protected under section 42 (1) (a) of the same Constitution.” the reliefs further read
The lawyer urged the court to order El-Rufai to “forthwith open the all the Schools (Nursery, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Institutions) in Kaduna State to enable normal academic activities to resume thereat.”
In the affidavit in support and grounds of the application, Tabakwot said that on January 12, the “Kaduna State Government and by extension the 1st Respondent as the Governor and Chief Executive Officer of the State, through the 3rd Respondent, the Commissioner for Education of Kaduna State suspended the resumption of schools in the state till further notice.”
According to him, the Federal Government of Nigeria on Thursday, January, 14th 2021 in Abuja directed that all public and private schools across the country should resume on Monday, January, 18th, 2021, and the schools should adhere strictly to Covid-19 orotocols pursuant to which other schools and institutions in other States like Lagos State the F.C.T. and Kano State have resumed full academic session with normal academics activities going on.
“In fact, other public places with higher risk of Covid-19 spread and contact such as Mosques, Churches and various markets within Kaduna metropolis, have been functioning optimally while complying with the Covid-19 protocols.
“That as a matter of fact, the Kaduna State Government by extension, the 1st Respondent have since set a Covid-19 Task Force & Enforcement Team saddled mainly with the responsibility of ensuring diligent compliance with Covid-19 protocols such as wearing of face masks, observation of social distancing in social gatherings and events, hand-washing and so on.
“That Mobile Courts have equally been set up to prosecute any person in the State found flouting the law.
“That the same measures can be put in place in the various schools and institutions of learning in Kaduna State.
“That presently, there are massive security personnel and operatives deployed in the State to provide both covert and overt operation to curb any threat or challenges that may arise from lack of compliance with the Covid-19 protocols.
“That despite the Federal Government directives and the measures put on ground by the 1st Respondent, students in Kaduna State are still at home.
“That till date, the 1st Respondent has refused or failed to order the resumption of schools in Kaduna State to enable the students to resume and enjoy their right to education.” he said
TheNigeriaLawyer recalls that Kaduna State Government has approved Monday, January 25, 2021 as the resumption date for tertiary institutions across the state.
The state ministry of education, in a statement on Sunday made available to TheNigeriaLawyer signed by its Permanent Secretary, Phoebe Sukai Yayi, said the approval came after an assessment team had gone round all tertiary institutions in the state and is satisfied with their level of preparedness.
According to the statement, the institutions are in full compliance with the state COVID-19 preventive protocols and for safe learning environment against the pandemic.
The public interest litigation suit by Tabakwot might have been overtaken by events due to the resumption of tertiary institutions or the suit may proceed as it relates to Nursery, Primary and Secondary Schools.
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