Nigerians’ Inability to Access African Court Not Violating Falana’s Rights –AGF
Posted: 13/May/2019

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), has said that Nigerians’ inability to access the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights does not constitute a violation of the rights of Mr. Femi Falana.
The AGF stated this in his counter-affidavit and preliminary objection filed on May 9, 2019, in response to a suit filed by Falana seeking an order compelling the Federal Government to make the declaration, which every African nation is required to make before their citizens can present cases before the continental court. 
Malami is the sole defendant in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/356/2019 and filed on May 3, 2019.
Seeking the dismissal of the suit, the AGF said Falana did not file the suit before the Federal High Court on behalf of any Nigerian whose right was violated, but that he only instituted it in his bid to represent his clients at the African Court.
The AGF, through the Permanent Secretary and Solicitor-General of the Federation, Mr. Dayo Apata, who filed the response to the suit, said the suit was incompetent, as, according to him, it did not constitute a violation of fundamental rights.
Falana had complained in his suit filed before the Federal High Court on May 3, 2019, that there had been reports about young men and women who were captured and sold into slavery in Libya.
He added that many Nigerians, who were kept in “notorious slavery camps” and whose human rights were violated in Libya, had asked him to seek redress on their behalf in the African Court.
He said he was unable to file cases for them in the African Court as Nigeria had “not accepted the competence of the court.”
But faulting the lawyer’s complaints, the AGF stated, “That paragraphs 8, 9 and 10 do not qualify as breach of fundamental rights of the applicant.
“That the applicant (Falana) has not stated how his fundamental rights have been breached by the respondent.
“The applicant has not made out any case against the respondent and there is no controversy between the applicant and the respondent.
“The applicant merely filed this suit to enable him to represent his clients in the African Court on Human Rights and that is not fundamental right as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights
“The applicant did not make this application on behalf of any applicant whose fundamental right has been breached, but who is unable to personally approach the court on account of being incarcerated and has briefed the applicant  to do so on his behalf.”
The AGF described the prayers contained in the suit as academic “and amounts to dragging  this honourable court along on a wild goose chase”.
Article 34(6) of the Protocol for the establishment of the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights requires member states of the African Union to make a declaration accepting the competence of the African Court to receive cases from non-governmental organisations and individuals in the countries.
Nigeria is among the 30 member states of the African Union that have ratified the protocol establishing the court, which is based in Arusha, Tanzania.
But, despite being currently represented on the 11-man bench of the African Court, Nigeria has yet to make the declaration recognising the competence of the court.
Only nine countries, namely, Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote D’voire , Ghana, Gambia, Mali, Malawi, and Tanzania, have made the declaration.
Dissatisfied with Nigerians’ inability to access the continental court, Falana, through his lawyer, Mrs Funmi Falana, filed his suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja on 3, 2019, seeking among others, “an order directing the Federal Government to make a Declaration accepting the competence of the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights forthwith.”
He also sought a declaration that the failure or refusal of the Federal Government “violates the applicant’s (Falana’s) right to fair hearing guaranteed by Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and Article 7(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation 2004”.
The case has been scheduled to come up for hearing before Justice Chukwuejekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday.