New Telegraph

N68bn UBE Fund: Compel FG, States To Provide Free Pry, Junior Secondary Education, Falana Tells Court

The Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, presided over by Justice Daniel Osiagor, has been asked to compel the Federal Government (FG), the 36 states of the federation and Abuja to provide free and compulsory education up to junior secondary school level.

The request came from a Lagos-based Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana alongside his co-plaintiff/applicant, Hauwa Mustapha who instituted the suit designated FHC/L/CS/142/2024, for themselves and on behalf of the Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond.

The 40 defendants/respondents are the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), the Minister of Education and Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), the Attorneys-General of the 36 states, and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Falana and others are specifically asking for a declaration that by virtue of Section 2(1) of the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act, 2004 the respondents are legally obligated to provide free, compulsory, and universal basic education for every Nigerian child of primary and junior secondary school age.

The plaintiffs are equally praying to the judge for a declaration that by virtue of Section 11(1) of the Compulsory Free Universal Basic Education Act, the FG shall contribute a block grant of not less than 2% of its Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) to the Universal Basic Education Fund (UBEF) on an annual basis.

Falana and others are further praying for a declaration that by virtue of Section 11(2) of the Compulsory Free Universal Basic Education Act, each State of the Federation shall contribute not less than 50% of the total cost of projects as its commitment to the execution of the projects to qualify for the FG block grant pursuant to subsection 1(l) of this section.

In the legal action, the plaintiffs also asked Justice Osiagor for a declaration that the refusal or failure of the respondents to access the sum of N68 billion for the universal basic education of children of school age in Nigeria is illegal as it violates Section 11(2) of the Compulsory Free Universal Basic Education Act.

They also want an order directing the 4th-40th Respondents to pay the counterpart fund to access the matching grant of N68 billion in the account of the Universal Basic Education Fund and report compliance with the order within 30 days of the delivery of the judgment of the court.

According to the suit, the plaintiffs are urging the court for “An order directing the 4th-40th respondents to pay the counterpart fund to access the matching grant in the account of the Universal Basic Education Fund as and when due forthwith.”

During the proceeding on the matter before Justice Osiagor, counsel for the SAN, Taiwo Olawanle moved an ex parte application for substituted service of the originating motion to be served on all the states of the federation who are parties through their liaison houses in Lagos.

Consequently, Justice Osiagor granted Olawanle’s application and ordered that all the states of the federation be served the originating processes and other subsequent processes through their liaison houses in Lagos.

The judge adjourned until May 20, 2024, for a hearing.

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