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Home National News NIMC Regulation That Makes NIN Compulsory For Filing Court Process, Tribunals, Is Unconstitutional — Court Rules

NIMC Regulation That Makes NIN Compulsory For Filing Court Process, Tribunals, Is Unconstitutional — Court Rules

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NIMC Regulation That Makes NIN Compulsory For Filing Court Process, Tribunals, Is Unconstitutional — Court Rules

The Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, yesterday, 17th February, 2021 declared the provisions of Regulation 1 (1) (u) of the Mandatory Use of The National Identification Number (NIN) Regulations, 2017, unconstitutional, null, and void for curtailing right of access to court or arbitration processes.

The provision in question reads, “1. In accordance with the provisions of Section 27(1)(1) of the Act, the use of the National Identification Number (NIN) shall be mandatory for the following transactions-
u) Filing and registrations of criminal and civil action in courts or other arbitration processes;”

Hon. Justice Ojukwu, whilst delivering judgement in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/189/2019 between Eustace Nwaozuzu and National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) said the constitution guarantees and protect the right of access to court without unnecessary encumbrance, and that only the Heads of Courts are given powers to make rules as regards accessing the court, accordingly, the purported regulation in that respect was a nullity, TheNigerialawyer reports.

She said the implication of  Regulation 1 (1) (u) is that persons who are not eligible to obtain a NIN by virtue of Section 16 of the NIMC Act cannot institute an action in court, be it civil or criminal.

She said the provision appears to run contrary to Chapter 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 which guarantees the fundamental human rights of Nigeria citizens including right of access to court which is applicable to everyone, without any exceptions.

Furthermore, she said the placing of NIN as a condition precedent to access court appears to short-change or truncate a person’s right to approach the court…

Similarly, the powers of the Commission do not extend to usurpation of the powers of the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to make rules and regulations for the practice and procedure in the Federal High Court, which includes procedure and requirement for filing processes in this Court or any Court for that matter.

Justice Ojukwu noted that, the National Identity Management Act creates and binds only three category of persons, and as such, persons who do not fall within these categories are deprived from accessing the services in which the use of the national Identity number is made mandatory.

She said, “Granted that Section 16 of the NIMC Act allows non-citizens of Nigeria to obtain NIN, it restricts the category of such persons to only those who are either permanently resident in Nigeria or those who have resided in Nigeria for a period of two years and above. The question then is; what happens to a foreigner/non-citizen of Nigeria who may have had his right abrogated or violated on his short visit to the Nigeria? Does the Regulation 1 (1) (u) not deprive of him of the right to institute an action for the enforcement of his rights and obligations? …It is for the above reason that I hereby declare the provisions of Regulation 1(1)(u) of Mandatory Use of the National Identification Number Regulations 2017 null and void and inapplicable to the Federal High Court.”

However, the Judge ruled that Regulation 1 (1)(q) of the Mandatory Use of the National Identification Commission Act 2017 is not breach of right to peaceful assembly and association under Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

From the copy of the judgment obtained by TheNigerialawyer, the plaintiff, Eustace Nwaozuzu, had approached the court seeking amongst other things:

1] A declaration that the provisions of Section 27(1) of the National Identity Management Commission Act and Regulation, 1 (1) (u) of the Mandatory Use of the National Identification Number Regulations 2017, insofar as they purport to regulate the filing and registration of criminal and civil actions in courts are unconstitutional, ultra vires and therefore null and void.

2] A declaration that the National Identity Management Commission cannot make any regulations to regulate the filling and registration of criminal and civil actions or arbitration processes in the Federal High Court.

3] A declaration that the provisions of Section 27(1) of the National Identity Management Commission Act and Regulation, 1 (1) (q) of the Mandatory Use of the National Identification Number Regulations 2017, insofar as they purport to restrict the entitlement of persons to freely associate with other persons and form or belong to associations by regulating the registration and membership of professional bodies are unconstitutional, ultra vires the defendant and therefore null and void.

 

 

CREDIT: THE NIGERIA LAWYERS

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