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Law/Judiciary

Receipt Of Land Purchase: Interest Conferred Therein (III)

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On Meaning of locus standi and effect of lack of locus
standi –

Locus
standi
is the legal right of a party
to an action to be heard in litigation before a court of law or tribunal. The
term entails the legal capacity of instituting or commencing an action in a
competent court of law or tribunal without any inhibition, obstruction or
hindrance from any person or body whatsoever. The issue of locus standi is
a condition precedent to the determination of a case on merit. Where a
plaintiff has no locus standi to bring a suit, the suit becomes
incompetent and the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain it, the only
order the court can make in the circumstance is that of dismissal. (Pp.175,paras.
E-F; 176,paras. G-H)

On
Principles guiding determination of locus standi of a person-

The
guiding principles to determine whether a person has locus standi or not
are:

(a)  he must be able to show that his civil rights
and obligations have been or are in danger of being infringed;

(b)
the fact that a person may not succeed in the action is immaterial;

(c)
whether the civil rights and obligation have been infringed depends on the
particulars of the case;

(d)
the court should not give any unduly restrictive interpretation to the
expression locus standi.

On
Tests for determining locus standi of a person –

The
tests for the determination of the locus standi of a person are:

(a)
the action must be justiable; and

(b)
there must be a dispute between the parties.

[Inakoju
v. Adeleke (2007) 4 NWLR (Pt.
1025) 423; Akinnubi v. Akinnubi (1997) 2 NWLR (Pt. 486) 144; Adesokan
v. Adegorolu (1997) 3 NWLR (Pt. 493)

261;
A.-G., Kaduna State
v. Hassan (1985)
2 NWLR (Pt. 8) 483; Elendu v. Ekwoaba (1995) 3 NWLR (Pt. 386) 704
referred to.] (P. 176, paras. A-C)

On
When plaintiff lacks locus standi to institute an action –

A
plaintiff lacks the locus standi to institute an action where he has no
axe to grind with the defendant in respect of the subject matter of the action.
In the instant case, by the averments in the respondent’s pleadings, he
acquired the land from his predecessor-in-title on the T” of July 1977,
whereas Lagos State Government published the acquisition of the land in the
gazette on the 16th of April 1974.
His predecessor-in-title was the owner and occupier of the land in 1974. Thus,
the respondent lacked the locus standi to institute the instant action
as, legally, he had no axe to grind with the Lagos State Government in respect
of the acquisition. (P.182,paras. C-D)

On
Need to join state government in action against compulsory acquisition of land

Before
any issue as to whether any land in dispute has been properly acquired by a
state government and whether the notice of acquisition and revocation of grant
was properly served by the government can be effectively adjudicated upon and
determined by the trial court, it is imperative to join the state government
concerned in the suit. In the instant case, the respondent rightly joined the
Attorney-General of Lagos State and the Military-Governor of Lagos State. [Elegushi
v. Oseni (2005) 14 NWLR (Pt. 945) 348; Mobil Oil (Nig.) Ltd. v.
Nabsons Ltd. (1995) 7 NWLR (Pt. 407) 254 referred to.] (P.171, paras.
C-F)

On
Role of respondent in an appeal –

The
traditional role of a respondent in an appeal is to defend the judgment
appealed against. In the instant case, the 3rd and 4th
respondents did not support the judgment of the two lower courts but
cross-appealed against the judgment of the Court of Appeal. (Pp. 185-186,
paras. G-A)

On
When Supreme Court will overturn concurrent judgments of the High Court and the
Court of Appeal-

The
Supreme Court is always reluctant to overturn the concurrent judgments of the
High Court and the Court of Appeal. However, where concurrent judgments of the
High Court and the Court of Appeal appear to be perverse, occasion a
miscarriage of justice, unreasonable and against the evidence adduced, or in
violation of some principle of law and procedure, the Supreme Court will not
allow them to stand. [Bayo J v. Ahemba (1999) 10 NWLR (Pt. 623)
381; Cameroon Airlines v. Otutuizu (2011) 4 NWLR (Pt. 1238) 512; Onwubuariri
v. Jgboasoiyi (2011) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1234) 357 referred to.] (Pp.182-183,paras.
G-A)

ADEKEYE,
J .S.C. (Delivering the Leading judgment):
This
is an appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal Lagos Division
delivered on the 4th of July 2000. The judgment of the Court of Appeal affirmed
the judgment of the High Court of Lagos State delivered on the 12th November
1996. The facts of the case are that the plaintiff, Oba John Ojomo, now
deceased commenced an action in the High Court of Lagos State against Dr. Tosin
Ajayi as 3rd defendant the Attorney-General of Lagos State
as 1 st defendant and the Military Governor of the Lagos State as 2nd defendant. By order of the trial court, the
plaintiff amended his statement of claim on the 4th December 1995, and
thereupon claimed against the defendants as follows:

(a)
A declaration that the acquisition and/or revocation of his right of occupancy
by Lagos State Government of his land at Opebi Village Ikeja covered by the
registered deed of conveyance dated 7th July 1977 ancl
registered as No. 94 at pages 94 in volume 1635 Lagos State, is a
nullity.

(b)
An order directing the immediate provision and grant to the plaintiff by the 1st and 2nd defendants of a
parcel of land comparable in size in a comparable locality for a term of ninety
years at a nominal ground rent of not more than one Kobo per annum free of all
survey, stamping, registration and other charges. Alternatively, against the
defendants jointly and severally damages or compensation in the sum of
N20,000,000 (Twenty Million Naira) for the unlawful confiscation and permanent
eviction of the plaintiff from his aforementioned land.

(c) An order directing the payment of mesne profits
of damages or compensation for the unlawful occupation of the said land by the
defendants from the date of purported acquisition thereof at the rate of N2,000
,000 per annum until the date of payment. The plaintiff unaware of the
purported notice of acquisition was dismayed when the 3rd defendant relied on Lagos State Government
Notice No. 140 contained in the Lagos State Gazette No. 11 volume 7 of 1974. The
plaintiff engaged a Registered Surveyor, Ademola Ashipa who produced a
composite plan LAT/90 ILA/95; exhibit E which showed that out of the
plaintiff’s land contained in his deed of conveyance; exhibit A measuring
5592.184 square metres, only 1485 square metres edged blue in area in exhibit E
falls within the area of Acquisition. It is evident from the composite plan;
exhibit E that.the plaintiff’s land falls within his predecessor- in-title’s
land Alhaji Isiba verged green. The area verged blue covered by the notice of
acquisition encroached upon the plaintiff’s land verged red. The 1st and 2nd defendants, the Military Governor of Lagos
State and the Attorney-General of Lagos State though were served with all court
processes did not file their defence to the case. The 3rd defendant who filed a defence to the case,
engaged in applying for several adjournments including filing motions to amend
his statement of defence. At the stage when the plaintiff had closed his case,
the 3’d defendant brought summons to dismiss or strike out the action for lack
of jurisdiction on the ground that the case is statute barred by the Limitation
Law of Lagos. Though it took the 3rd defendant three years after this suit was
instituted before his statement of defence was filed, he did not plead facts
raising the Statute of Limitation or the defence of Public Officers Protection
Law Cap. 114 Laws of Lagos State, 1973. The defence of Public Officers
Protection Law and the Limitation Law of 1994 are special defences which in
accordance with Order 17 rule 11 of the High Court of Lagos State (Civil
Procedure) rules, 1994 must be specially or specifically pleaded. The learned
trial Judge was however of the impression that the summons dated the 2nd of August
1996 brought after issues have long been joined by the parties and the
plaintiff had called all his witnesses and closed his case, was brought to
stall the proceedings.

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Law/Judiciary

Court Remands Legal Awards Organiser Over N20m Fraud

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An Ikeja Special Offences Court yesterday remanded Lere Fashola, the organiser of Esquire Nigerian Legal Awards at the correctional facility over alleged N20 million property fraud.
The Tide source reports that Fashola, a lawyer, is also the publisher of Esquire Law Magazine.
Fashola and his company, Legal Blitz Ltd were arraigned by the Advanced Fee Fraud Section of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a three-count charge of stealing and issuance of dud cheques.
Following his not guilty plea to the charges, Justice Sherifat Solebo ordered that the award organiser should be remanded at a correctional facility.
Solebo did not name the correctional facility where Fashola would be remanded.
“Pending the hearing and the determination of the bail application, the defendant is ordered to be remanded at the correctional facility,” Solebo said.
According to the EFCC Prosecutor, Mrs Joy Amahian, the defendants committed the offences in Lagos between Jan. 5 to Feb. 28, 2018.
According to the anti-graft agency, the lawyer was arrested, following a petition by a client, Mr Adeyemi Adebola, who alleged that Fashola had under false pretences, obtained N20 million during a transaction for the purchase of a property.
The property is located at Plot 732, Block XXVII (27), Omole Residential Scheme, Phase 2, Isheri, Lagos
The EFCC alleged that the defendant dishonestly converted to his own use, N20 million which was deposited by Adebola for the purchase of the property.

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Law/Judiciary

Dokpesi Opens Defence In N2.1bn Fraud Charge

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The founder of DAAR Communications Plc, Raymond Dokpesi, yesterday, at the Federal High Court Abuja, opened his defence in the alleged N2.1 billion fraud charge, preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The EFCC arraigned Dokpesi in 2015, on a seven-count charge, bordering on alleged N2.1 billion fraud, said to be payments received from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
At the resumed hearing, the prosecuting counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), informed the court that the matter had been adjourned for Dokpesi to open his defence.
Dokpesi was called as the first defence witness and led in evidence by his counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN).
Dokpesi told the court that he was a marine engineer by training and founder of Daar Investment and Holding, the parent company of Daar Communications.
He further told the court that the company which had been in business in the past 32 years for print media and 28 years for electronic media, served governments at all levels, business entities, individuals and corporate organisations.
“All that any of our customer needs to do is reach out to our canvassers through our marketing and sales officers and management to book for airtime on the product they want advertised.
” There is no special treatment, as it is one and the same procedure for everybody; Federal Government, state government or individuals,” he said.
He also told the court that the company had a brochure with advert rates where corporate organisations and individuals could peruse to pick the package that they were most comfortable with.
Ozekhome tendered the brochure as an exhibit and it was admitted in evidence.
When, he, however, sought to tender a receipt issued to Nasarawa State Government by Daar Communications, the prosecutor objected on the grounds that the document was irrelevant to the case.
“The receipts were not issued to the Federal Government and are not related to the sum of the charge which is N2.1 billion.
” All the receipts were issued in 2019, while proceedings in this suit are still pending, contrary to Section 83 of the Evidence Act.”

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Law/Judiciary

A Woman’s Right Of Inheritance

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Section 42(1) (a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended provides that “A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not by reason only that he is such a person, be subjected either expressly by or in practical application of any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religion or political opinions are not made subject.”
This provision makes it clear that nobody should be discriminated upon by reason of his or her sex. In most parts of Nigeria today, female children are still being discriminated against on issues of inheritance, especially under native law and custom. The court has constantly held that this practice was repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience as seen in the case of Motoh V. Motoh (2011) 16 NWLR PT 1274 CA where it was held that the native law and custom of Umuanaga Akwa which discriminates against female children of the same parent and favours the male children who inherit all the estate of their father to the exclusion of their female siblings is repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience.
In the words of Niki Tobi J.C. A (as he reverence) in Mojekwu V. Mojekwu (1997) 7 NWLR (Pt 512) 283 “… any form of societal discrimination on grounds of sex, apart from being unconstitutional, is antithesis to a society built on the tenet of democracy, which we have freely chosen as a people. It is the monopoly of God to determine the sex of a baby and not the parents… Accordingly, for a custom or customary law to discriminate against a particular sex, is to say the least, an affront to the Almighty God Himself.” Aside the discrimination of a girl child some Igbo customs forbid a wife who worked hard with the husband to acquire the property they tag “His Own” from inheriting such property. In some cases the brother of the deceased inherits his wife and his property (Ikuchi).
Our courts have also condemned the tradition where a female child in order to inherit her late father’s property will assume the position of a man in her father’s house. This means that she will remain in her father’s house unmarried but have children in her father’s name (Nrachi custom of Nnewi). According to Fabiyi J.C.A. in Mojekwu V Ejikeme (200(0 5 NWLR (Pt 656) 402 “… it cannot and should not be allowed to rear its ugly head any longer, it should die a natural death and be buried. It should not be allowed to resurrect. The custom is perfidious and the petrifying odour smells to high heavens.”
Despite these bold pronouncements by the courts and the constitutional provision, many women still experience discrimination in terms of t heir right to inheritance. It is true that the brilliant pronouncement by the courts have not proven sufficient to eliminate discrimination against women as is currently experienced. This write-up is a clarion call to women to fight for their rights.

 

Nkechi Bright Ewere

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