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Lawyers excited as court scraps fees on human rights applications

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THE Federal High Court  in Abuja has scrapped payment of monetary claims and default fees in cases bordering on fundamental human rights.

The notice was contained in a circular issued Tuesday and signed by Jane Egbo, assistant chief registrar (litigation).

The circular titled ‘Re; Monetary claims and default fees in fundamental right applications’ stated that T. Tsoho, chief judge of the Federal High Court, had informed all deputy chief registrars and station registrars of the development.

“I have been directed by the chief judge of the federal high court, Hon. justice J. T. Tsoho to inform all DCRs (deputy chief registrars) and station registrars that henceforth, monetary claims and default fees in respect of fundamental human right applications should no longer be charged. Be so informed and comply accordingly,” the notice read.

Reacting to the development, Solomon Okedara, co-founder of Digital Rights Lawyers Initiative, a non-governmental organisation that represents cases bordering on digital rights pro bono, told The ICIR that it was a step in the right direction.

Okedara stated that the initiative would promote human rights in the country as applicants would not, for the fear of charges, decide not to file a case on human rights infringement.

Explaining how the development would benefit human rights cases in Nigeria, Okedara said before now, applicants of fundamental human rights cases paid fees to fight their applications in the court, most especially when there were monetary claims involved.

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He added that before now, lawyers were made to pay as much as 50,000 naira in order to make monetary claims of damages incurred.

“For instance, the Digital Rights Lawyers Initiative that takes on cases pro bono, if our case has monetary claims, we have to pay some sort of amount in order to file such claims,” Okedara said.

He added that it had long discouraged applicants from filing cases bordering on human rights cases in federal high courts.

Okedara also noted that on the default charges, before now, if a legal counsel or the applicant was served a legal notice and failed to respond within the stipulated time by the court, there would be charges to pay.

According to him, the default charges had also discouraged respondents who, for one reason or the other, had failed to respond to the legal notice within the stipulated time.

On his part, Samuel Oyigbo, a lawyer and human rights activist, noted that the move would deepen human rights in the country by ensuring that applicants came forward to seek redress.

Lukman Abolade is an Investigative reporter with The ICIR. Reach out to him via [email protected], on twitter @AboladeLAA and FB @Correction94

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