Locus standi is a Latin word for standing. Traditionally, it implies that a litigant must have
sufficient interest to apply to the court for the enforcement of the right of another person,
challenge the actions of the government, have a court declare a law unconstitutional or even to
litigate in the interest of the public otherwise the application will not be successful.
The interpretation of locus standi before the courts in most common law jurisdictions is liberal.
Nigerian courts, however, interpret the principle of locus standi strictly, in the sense that standing
is accorded the person who shows cause of action or sufficient interest. This position denies
access to justice to many Nigerians who are poor or have no knowledge of their rights as the
courts position on standing prevents NGOs or other individuals from applying to the courts on
their behalf or litigating in the interest of the public.
Presently, the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009 regulate the practice and
procedure for the enforcement of human rights before Nigerian courts. The Rules encourage the
courts to ‗welcome public interest litigation in the human rights field‘ and not to dismiss or strike
out human right cases for want of locus standi. However, it is doubtful if the courts will accept
This study looks at the context of the interpretation of the principle of locus standi by Nigerian
Courts and its effect on access to justice and public interest litigation by NGOs and individuals.
It also examines the impact of the provision for locus standi of the Fundamental Rights
(Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009.
Finally, this study provides an analysis of the interpretation of this concept in other common law
jurisdictions such as Kenya, India, United Kingdom and South Africa who once interpreted the
concept strictly but now interpret it more liberally. This comparison is necessary to show that
Nigerian courts are isolated in their position in the interpretation of locus standi and that there is
need for the courts to conform to international best practice.