Education tax: Court strikes out Catholic Church’s suit against Ekiti govt

An Ekiti State high court sitting in Ado Ekiti has struck out a case instituted by the Catholic Diocese of Ekiti against the state government for introducing education levies on pupils of private and public primary and secondary schools.

Delivering judgement in the matter on Thursday, Justice Cornelius Akintayo held that although the claimant had a case, the suit had a “cause of action”, but agreed with the defendant that the claimant should have approached the court by way of writ of summons and not originating summons.

The church, through its counsel, Emmanuel Akingbade, had dragged the government to court saying introduction of education levy contradicted the 1979 Constitution as amended and the Universal Basic Education Commission Law of 2004 which guaranteed free education to all pupils and students in both primary and secondary schools across the country.

He claimed that the government could not impose any education levy without a validly passed law by the state House of Assembly and therefore urged the court to declare the action unconstitutional.

However, in a counter affidavit deposed to by the defendant, the government urged the court to strike out the suit saying it was statute barred since it was not filed within the three months stipulated by law.

The claimant said the collection of the levy took effect in December 2015 while the claimant went to court in April 2016, four months after.

Justice Akintayo said since the issue involved convocation of an education summit which the claimant participated, there is the need for both parties to have come to the court with witnesses for cross examination to determine the issue at stake.

Reacting to the judgment, Akingbade said there is hope since the motion was not dismissed, adding that “there is opportunity to come back.”

He, however, reminded the government that the education tax imposed was only for October 2015 to July 2016 session. He warned that “we may come back under another name if the government continues to tax students.”

Counsel to the defendant, Lawrence Babatope Ojo, commended the judge for the judgment.

In the government’s circular, pupils of primary schools were to pay N500 while those in the secondary schools were levied N1,000 for the 2015 and 2016 academic session.