n African Human Rights Law Journal - Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules, 2009 as a tool for the enforcement of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights in Nigeria : the need for far-reaching reform




The article traces the evolution of FREP rules in Nigeria and highlights the problems which gave rise to FREP Rules, 2009. The article discusses the new rules and acknowledges that their objectives are laudable. For instance, the new Rules had to a large extent solved the thorny issues of how to commence human rights actions, expensive filing costs, service and limitation of action. However, the article notes that it is unusual for Rules of Court to have a preamble. The FREP Rules, 2009, therefore, depart from the usual standard. The fact that the laudable objectives of the FREP Rules are contained in a preamble may minimise their legal effect since preambles do not have the same legal force as substantive provisions. What is more, a number of provisions of the Rules are inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999, and stand the risk of being declared null and void to the extent of their inconsistency in adversarial proceedings. There are a few provisions in the FREP Rules, 2009, which may be adverse to the interest of victims of human right violations compared to the FREP Rules, 1979. These include the abolition of application for leave of court and the requirement to front-load evidence together with a written address before commencing an action. These requirements may be counter-productive as counsel will require more time for research. Also, the Court of Appeal decision and the argument that FREP Rules have a constitutional flavour are misconceived and may be counter-productive as it will introduce rigidity into the review of the rule. The challenges posed with the enforcement of human rights in Nigeria are multi-faceted (constitutional, judicial and social). Therefore, a simplistic attempt to solve them through a review of the FREP Rules is surely inadequate. The article calls for legislative intervention to make the provisions of chapter II enforceable and to amend section 12(1) which requires domestication of treaties and conventions as a precondition for their enforcement.


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