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Court declares free primary, junior secondary education compulsory

Justice John Tsoho declared that every Nigerian child has the constitutional right to free and compulsory education at these levels.

Court gavel

Justice John Tsoho declared that every Nigerian child has the constitutional right to free and compulsory education at these levels.

The judge said the federal and state governments have constitutional duties to provide adequate funds for the free education.

Failure by any government to fund free primary and junior secondary education will constitute a breach of the constitution, the court held.

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The judgment was in favour of a suit filed by a non-governmental organisation, Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), against the Federal Ministry of Education and the Attorney General of the Federation.

In the suit, LEDAP asked the court to 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.

Justice Tsoho who relied on a 2002 decision of the Supreme Court, held that by enacting the UBE Act, the National Assembly has made the right to free and compulsory primary and free junior secondary education contained in Chapter 2 an enforceable or justiciable right.

Speaking on the judgment, the lead counsel to LEDAP, Mr Chino Obiagwu, said that the court has now given life and hope to over 28 million Nigerian children who are currently out of primary and Junior Secondary School or who are at risk of being withdrawn from school.

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However, Justice Tsoho's judgment means any child not enrolled in school or who is withdrawn from school can exercise his or her constitutional rights against the parent or guardian or against the government.

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