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Law/Judiciary

Occupier’s Liability

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Occupier’s liability is the liability of the occupier of a premises, fixed or moveable structure for any injury suffered by a person who enter it, as a result of the state of the property. Occupier’s Liability is the liability of a person who has the occupation or control of a premises, for injury occasioned to anyone who enter it, as a result of the state of the premises, fixed or moveable structure. Occupier’s Liability is the tort which deals with the duty of care of an occupier or controller of a premises, fixed or moveable structure to persons who visit or enter theron, other than criminals. Thus occupier’s Liability is the liability of occupier’s for the safety of the persons who are on his premises whether or not they are there by his invitation permission and so forth.

A reasonable percentage of accidents or injuries occur on premises, or structures whether privately owned or a publicly owned. The purpose of the tort of the occupier’s Liability is to make an occupier Liable for injury suffered on his premises or property as a result of his negligence, or state of the property. The Liability of an occupier depends on the kind of entrant, for instance, whether the entrant is an invitee or trespasser. As a result of the complexity of the common law on occupier’s liability, the law on occupier’s liability  has been simplified by statute in many common Law Countries.

Essentially, occupier’s liability is the tort that deals with the liability of an occupier for injury suffered by any person as a result of the state of the:

1.Land

2.Building, houses and

  premises generally

3.Fixed structure: and

4.Moveable structure including any vessel, vehicle or aircraft.

Thus, occupier’s Liability is the tort which governs the liability an occupier, controller or manager of a premises, fixed or moveable structures, including any vessel, vehicle or aircraft, and the duty of care he owes to any person who comes into or enters such property. The Liability of an occupier is based on the tort of negligence, that is, the Law of negligence. Accordingly, occupier’s Liability is a part of the Law of negligence.

Definition of Property

Generally, property is anything capable of ownership, whether tangible or intangible. However, in the context of occupiers liability, the word “property” includes, Land, buildings, whether or not completed. Fixed and moveable structures, such as Equipments, Machinery, any motor vehicle, Earth moving equipments, and construction equipment, railway lines and coaches, any water going vessel, aircraft and so forth.

The laws governing occupier’s liability

In Nigeria, the laws governing an occupier’s liability to persons who enter his property are common law and statutes as follows:

1. Lagos State: Occupier’s Liability in Lagos state is regulated by the provision of the Law Reform (Torts) law which is modeled on the English occupier’s Liability Act, 1957, which has enacted to reform the confusing common law rules in England.

2. In all states where there is no law Reform (Torts) Law: Occupier’s Liability is governed by the common Law rules in Force in England to date, including its reformation in BRB v Herrington, with the Exception of English statutory enactments.

Who is an occupier?

An occupier “is a person who has possession, occupation, used, or some degree of control of a land, premises, fixed or moveable structure. Thus, as occupier need not be an owner. Excusive occupation is not necessary furthermore:

1. There may be more than one occupier in a premises at a time occupying different parts or floor and so forth.

2. A tenant, concessionaire ‘contractor’ licencee, local authority and so forth may be the occupier.

3. A person may be an occupier, even though he is not actually present in the premises to be in control or management of it. 

Property Under Occupier’s Liability

The prosperities in respect of which an occupier may incur liability under law may be classified into three group as follows:

(1)Premises: The word “premises”, includes residential, and business premises, such as, offices, factory, cinema hall, recreation parks, buildings, construction sites and any landed property generally.

(2) Fixed Structures: The term fixed structures, includes any structure attached to a land, or any building and includes railway lines, bridges, electricity poles and cables, recreational facilities in a park, trees, generating plants, and and other fixed structure generally.

(3)     Moveable structures: The term moveable structures, including moveable structure, such as, ship, boat vessel, motor vehicles of any kind, including earth moving and road construction vehicles, aircraft and so forth.

The person, or business in possession or control of any property is regarded as the occupier of such property, because he has the occupation, control or supervision of property or structure.

Hurdman Vs. North Eastern Railway Co. 

The surface of the premises of the defendants company had been artificially raised by earth placed thereon. After rainfall on the defendant’s land, water made its way by seeping into the adjourning house of the plaintiff and caused damage. The plaintiff sued the defendant company was liable. The defendant was liable because, the rule of law is that you should so use your land as not to cause harm to another person.

IITA Vs. Amrani are

The plaintiff respondent had a moped accident on a road in the promises of the defendant appellant institute. The Plaintiff alleged that a deposit of sand negligently left along the road had caused the accident. The court of Appeal, Ibadan division held: that the action failed as negligence was not proved on the part of the defendant institute.

The Liability of  an occupier at Common Law

At common law, the liability of an occupier to a person coming onto his premises depend on the category of entrant the persons  falls into. At common law the persons entering a property are classified into three categories as follows:

(1)Invitees

(2)Licenses; and

(3)Trespassers

We shall briefly examine the common law liabilities of an occupier to these categories of entrants.

Invitees:

An invitee is a person who is on a property by the express or implied invitation of the occupier.

He is someone who is asked expressly or impliedly to be on a property for the business or interest of the invitor.

An invitees is a person who has been invited to enter a property by an occupier or by any other person staying with the occupier. Thus, an invitee is a person who comes into a property with the consent of the occupier, for instance, for a business or matter in which he and the occupier have a common interest. For this reason he is also otherwise  called a licensee with an interest, because he comes with the consent of the occupier pursuit of a common interest, that is a purpose in which both himself and the occupier has an interest. Examples of invitees, or a licensee with an interest are invited guester at an occasion, fee paying lodgers at a hotel, customers, clients of a business on the premises, such as an offices, supermarket, cinema hall, restaurant, amusement park, commercial vehicle, sanitary inspector, postman, electricity personnel and so forth.

At common law, an occupier owes a duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of his invitees from danger, which he knows or ought to know about. On his own part. An invitee is also expected to use and exercise reasonable care for his own safety, whilst on a premises.

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Law/Judiciary

Travel Agent Charged With N1.3m Visa Fraud

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A 40-year-old travel agent, Eze Sunday, was on Monday arraigned at a Yaba Chief Magistrates’ Court in Lagos for allegedly obtaining N1.3 million from a client on the pretext of procuring a Turkey visa for her.
Sunday is facing a three-count charge bordering on conspiracy, stealing and obtaining by false pretences.
The defendant, who resides in Yaba, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The Prosecutor, Mr J.I. Eboseremen, told the court that the defendant committed the offences sometime in January on Association Avenue in Igando, Lagos.
He said that the defendant stole the N1.3 million from the complainant, Miss Charity Obeta, which she gave him through a United Bank of Africa electronic transfer, for her travel logistics.
According to him, the defendant promised to procure a Turkey visa, get a return flight ticket and hotel reservation for Obeta, but failed.
Eboseremen alleged that the defendant absconded with the money and refused to take the complainant’s calls.
“My lord, the complainant’s intended travel date was drawing close but she could not contact the defendant.
“His colleagues at workplace told her that the defendant travelled and did not intend to return to the office.
Obeta reported the case to the police, and the defendant was tracked and arrested,” the prosecutor said.
He said that the alleged offences contravened Sections 411, 314 and 287 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015 (Revised).
The Chief Magistrate, Mrs Oluwatoyin Oghere, released the defendant on bail in the sum of N2 million with two sureties each in like sum.
Oghere said that one of the sureties must be a blood relation of the defendant and reside within the court’s jurisdiction.
She ordered that the sureties must be gainfully employed and show evidence of three years’ tax payment to Lagos State Government.
Oghere adjourned the case until September 11 for trial.

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Remove Nwosu’s Name As Guber Candidate, Court Orders INEC

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The Federal High Court, Abuja, last Monday, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remove the name of Uche Nwosu as a governorship candidate in the last election held in Imo State.
Justice Inyang Ekwo voided Nwosu’s candidacy on the grounds of double nomination by two political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Action Alliance (AA), in violation of section 37 of the Electoral Act.
The ruling came as Nwosu, a son-in-law to the immediate-past Governor of the state, Rochas Okorocha, is currently pursuing an election petition at the state’s Governorship Election Petition Tribunal as the candidate of AA, challenging the victory of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Emeka Ihedioha, in the March 11 poll.
In his judgment on Monday, Justice Ekwo upheld the case of the plaintiffs, the Action People’s Party (APP) and its Deputy National Chairman, Mr Uche Nnadi, to the effect that Nwosu’s governorship candidature was null and void on the grounds of multiplicity of nominations as a governorship candidate of both the APC and AA.
According to him, the nomination of Nwosu by AA as a governorship candidate is invalid, null and void, having been made at the pendency of similar nomination of the 2nd defendant (Nwosu) by the All Progressives Congress for the same position.
The judge noted that Nwosu affirmed to be the APC’s governorship candidate in his statement on oath sworn before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.
The judge similarly declared that Nwosu “has not been validly nominated by the 3rd defendant (AA) as its governorship candidate for the state governorship election having been made at the pendency of the order of Justice Valentine Ashi of the Abuja High Court recognising the 2nd defendant as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the Imo 2019 governorship election.”
He noted that Nwosu participated in the APC’s primaries held on October 6, 2018 and was subsequently nominated as the party’s governorship candidate.
While laying claim to the APC’s governorship ticket, amidst stiff opposition from members of the party, he was said to have on October 9, 2018, obtained an order of Justice Valentine Ashi (now deceased) of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, recognising him as the valid candidate of the party.
In the midst of this, Nwosu was also offered the ticket of the AA.
In his judgment, Justice Ekwo said, “There is no controversy that, on October 6, 2018, the 2nd defendant (Nwosu) had himself nominated as the governorship candidate of the APC.

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Law/Judiciary

Enugu Police Nab Suspected Armed Robbers, Recover Pistol

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The Enugu State Police Command has nabbed two suspected armed robbers terrorising Abakpa Community in the outskirts of Enugu metropolis.
The police also recovered one locally made Beretta pistol from the suspects.
The Command’s Public Relations Officer, SP Ebere Amaraizu, said this in a statement made available to newsmen yesterday in Enugu.
Amaraizu said that the suspects were arrested on August 16 by Anti-Cult Unit of the command after a raid on a black spot in the community.
He said: “Following an attack on Abakpa Police Division operatives by hoodlums, the Anti-Cultism Unit of Command went on raid at Umuchigbo axis of Abakpa Community.
“The operatives arrested one Chekwube Igwe and one Teddy Otti both of Vikings confraternity, who have been terrorising Abakpa Community and its environs.
“The police operatives also recovered a local pistol from them.’’
The police spokesman said that the suspects had been helping police operatives in their investigation on their nefarious activities.
“They will be charged to court as soon as investigation is over,’’ he said.

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