The National Assembly is embarking on constitutional reforms. CSJ has engaged the reforms in matters of economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights. Essentially, the thrust is to advocate for a constitutional recognition, as rights properly so called, of the minimum core obligations of ESC rights. An occasional paper on the Justiciable Constitutionalisation of ESC Rights has been prepared and disseminated. In collaboration with Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria, it has also prepared a memorandum sent to the National Assembly on the Justiciable Constitutionalisation of the Right to Health – a Framework for Action. CSJ’s reform agenda also focuses on the provisions relating to public finance management and political finance. It is befitting to report that some of the recommendations of the memorandum including primary and maternal health as part of the fundamental rights of Nigerians has been approved by the House of Representatives.
A second memorandum on fiscal governance issues was also sent to the Senate and the House of Representatives Committees on Constitution Review and a number of issues raised in that memo have also been approved by the House of Representatives. They include the direct allocation of funds to local governments, financial independence of the office of the Auditor-General, a time frame for the President to submit the annual budget to the legislature, etc.
The project also monitors the work of the Courts and election adjudication tribunals. The report, the Judiciary and Nigerian 2011 Elections captures our monitoring effort related to the 2011 elections adjudication process. One of the recommendations of the monitoring report on the judiciary and the 2011 elections has been adopted as a bill before the legislature. The bill proposes that the 60 day time frame for the conclusion of an appeal from an election tribunal shall not start to run until the records of appeal have been compiled and transmitted to the Court of Appeal.
The programme also litigates human rights violations and the most recent is the case of a victim of violation of the fundamental right to life. In Chidiebere Promise Okere & Anor v Corporal Olotu Owoicho & 2 Ors, the High Court awarded general and exemplary damages in the sum of N152million against the Police and the Federal Government. This appears to be the highest of such award of damages by the courts in recent fundamental rights jurisprudence. Another suit – Ayuba Yakubu v Government of Nasarawa State and 3ors seeks the enforcement of the fundamental rights of Ayuba Yakubu (a victim of the reckless driving of the governor’s convoy) to life and human dignity and the claim for compensation is in the sum of N1.1billion.
CSJ hosts the litigation centre of the Stop Impunity Nigeria Campaign a collaboration of four CSOs, the National Orientation Agency, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and the Christian Association of Nigeria. Over ten anti-impunity cases have been filed and are pending in court. CSJ also hosted the impunity and rule of law workshop which sought to devise strategies to combat impunity in the rule of law. IEC materials (T-Shirts, Face caps, posters, stickers, calendars, handbills and fliers) were printed to sensitise people on their rights under the rule of law. The project also hosted a workshop on patriotism, civic responsibilities and ethics which sought to focus attention on the duties of the citizen to the state.