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Human Rights Lawyer Drags El-Rufai to Court Over Indefinite School Closure

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Human Rights Lawyer Drags El-Rufai to Court Over Indefinite School Closure

A Kaduna-based human rights lawyer, Desmond Tabakwot, has sued the governor of the state, Nasir El-Rufai, over the indefinite closure of schools in the state due to COVID-19 infections.

Tropics Nigeria NewsReporters had reported how Kaduna State government had ordered the closure of schools across the 23 local government areas of the state.



The state Commissioner for Education, Shehu Makarfi, had said this was necessary due to an upsurge in the COVID-19 cases in the state.

But on Monday, Tabakwot challenged the closure by El-Rufai in a court of law.

Tabakwot argued that El-Rufai had no power to keep private and public schools closed indefinitely as the executive order on the matter was an infringement on the constitutional rights of affected students.

Arguing his submission, Tabakwot, who doubles as a Public Interest Litigator, and father of two school pupils, Mitchel and Mildred, on behalf of whom he is suing, argued that the Nigerian government ordered the resumption of all public and private schools on January 18.

The governor is the first respondent, followed by the Kaduna State Attorney General and Kaduna State Commissioner of Education as the 2nd and 3rd respondents respectively.

The charge sheet read, “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 protocols.

“That pursuant to the directive of the Federal Government of Nigeria, as stated in paragraph 4 above, the Lagos State Government announced that all schools in the state are to reopen on Monday, January 18, 2021.

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“That similarly, schools in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory and Kano State have also resumed as directed by the Federal Government.

“That the statement of the Government of Kaduna State and by extension the 1st respondent above is a breach of the rights of students in the state enshrined under section 18 (1) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

“That other schools and institutions in other states like Lagos State the FCT and Kano State have resumed full academic session with normal academic activities going on in compliance with the Federal Government’s directives of adhering to COVID-19 protocols.

“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, among others,” he stated

Tabkwot is, therefore, seeking among others “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 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

“That all the students (in every nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary institutions) in Kaduna State are entitled to the enjoyment of 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.

“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.

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“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.”

He also enjoined the court to make an order compelling the respondents to open all the schools (nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary institutions) in Kaduna State to enable normal academic activities resume.

He also sought other reliefs that the court may deem just and fit to make in the circumstances of his application.

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