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  • Damjor v. Attorney-General, Benue State
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  • 2002-09-23
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Damjor v. Attorney-General, Benue State

JACOB I. DAMJOR & ANOR.

V

ATTORNEY-GENERAL, BENUE STATE & ANOR.

COURT OF APPEAL

( JOS DIVISION )

IBRAHIM TANKO MOHAMMAD, JCA ( Presided )

OLUDADE OLADAPO OBADINA, JCA

ISA ABUBAKAR MANGAJI, JCA ( Read the Lead Judgment )

CA/J/130/97

MONDAY, 9TH APRIL, 2001

ACTION - Action against Local Government - Need to give pre-action notice - Section 178(1), Benue State Edict, No. 14 of 1976

ACTION - Pre-action notice - Whether fundamental to adjudication - Effect of failure to give

APPEAL - Issues - Predication of on grounds of appeal - Need not to proliferate

FAIR HEARING - Committee of Investigation set up in this suit - Proceedings of  - Failure to record oral answers given by alleged wrongdoers Whether should vitiate final report of committee on grounds of lack of fair hearing

GOVERNMENT - Local Government - Action against- Need to give preaction notice - Section 178(1), Benue State Edict, No. 14 of 1976

INTERPRETATION - Statutory interpretation - Clear provisions of the law -  How to interprete

JURISDICTION - Fundamental nature of  - Defect in jurisdiction - What is

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Appeal - Issues - Predication of on grounds of appeal - Need not to proliferate

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Defence - Special defence - Need to specifically plead

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Fair hearing - Committee of Investigation set up in this suit - Proceedings of - Failure to record oral answers by alleged wrongdoers - Whether should vitiate final report of committee on grounds of lack of fair hearing

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Pre-action notice - Condition precedent to institution of action against local government - Section 178(1), Benue State Edict, No.14 of 1976

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Ground of law’ - Meaning of

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Misdirection’ - Meaning of

Issues:

1.            Whether the learned trial Judge was right in law in striking out the case against the 2nd respondent on the ground that the applicants did not serve the statutory notice of 30 days on the 2 nd respondent before commencing the action.

2.            Whether the failure of the committee to first record the appellants’ explanations as to how the appellants incurred the various expenses shown in certain payment vouchers before rejecting such explanations did not in the circumstances of the committee’s investigation amount to a breach of fair hearing or rules of natural justice.

Facts:

The 1st and 2nd appellants were respectively Director of Personnel Management, and Treasurer, respectively of Katsina-Ala Local Government Council between 18/11/83 and 6/11/94. There appeared to be series of complaints about financial mismanagement in the Local Government as a result of which the then Military Administration of Benue State constituted a 3-member Committee of Investigation to probe the alleged financial mismanagement. The appellants attended the proceedings of the committee and evidence was received from the appellants, but in the final report of the committee the answers given by the appellants to some of the questions posed to them were not reflected. The committee found the appellants to have committed financial wrongdoings as a result of which it recommended to the  Benue State Government that the applicants be made to refund sums of money that were wrongly appropriated.

When the Benue State Government issued a white paper on the committee’s report substantially accepting their recommendations, the appellants were dissatisfied and they applied to the High Court for an order of certiorari to remove to the High Court for the purpose of being quashed the said report and the White paper. The motion for the order of certiorari was argued and in his judgment the learned trial Judge held that the suit against the 2nd respondent (i.e. the Local Government Council) was incompetent and therefore struck out its name while it dismissed the claim against the 1st respondent .

Dissatisfied, the appellants brought this appeal. The Court of Appeal considered the provisions of section 178(1) of the Benue State Edict, No.14 of 1976 which provides thus:

“178 (1) No suit shall be commenced against a local government until one month at least after written notice of intention to commence the same has been served upon the local government by the intended plaintiff or his agent.

(2) Such notice shall state the cause of action, the name and place of abode of the intending plaintiff and the relief which he claims.”