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Nigerian Postal Service v. Adepoju

NIGERIAN POSTAL SERVICE

V

MRS. KEHINDE ADEPOJU

COURT OF APPEAL

( ILORIN DIVISION )

MURITALA AREMU OKUNOLA, JCA ( Presided )

PATRICK IBE AMAIZU, JCA ( Read the Lead Judgment )

WALTER SAMUEL ONNOGHEN, JCA

CA/IL/M.39/2000

TUESDAY, 5TH MARCH, 2002

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW - Constitution, 1979 as amended, section 230(1)( q), (r) and (s) - Purport of

COURT - Court lacking jurisdiction - Effect of on trial

COURT - Termination of employment of an employee of Federal

Government or its agency - Whether State High Court has jurisdiction in respect of

INTERPRETATION OF STATUTE - General rule of interpretation - When court may seek internal or external aid in interpreting statute

INTERPRETATION OF STATUTE - Section of an Act containing proviso -

How construed

INTERPRETATION OF STATUTE - ‘Proviso’ in a statute - Object of

JURISDICTION - Court lacking jurisdiction - Effect of on trial

JURISDICTION - Issues of jurisdiction - When may be raised JURISDICTION - Termination of employment of an employee of Federal Government or its agency - Whether State High Court has jurisdiction in respect of

MASTER AND SERVANT - Termination of employment of an employee of Federal Government or its agency - Whether State High Court has jurisdiction thereover

POSTAL SERVICE - Nigerian Postal Service - Whether an agent of Federal Government as to come under the provision of section 230(1) (q), ( r) and (s) of 1979 Constitution

STATUTE - Proviso in a statute - Object of

STATUTE - Section of on Act containing proviso - How construed

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Any of its agencies’ in Decree 107 of 1993 -

Meaning of

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Proviso’ - Definition of WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘To administer’ -Definition of

Issue:

Whether the Kwara State High Court has jurisdiction to entertain and determine the respondent’s case against the appellant having regards to the provisions of section 230(1)(q), (r) and (s) of the 1979 Constitution as amended by Decree No. 107 of 1993.

Facts:

The respondent who was in the employment of the appellant was dismissed from service, for misconduct. It was alleged that the respondent and other members of the staff tampered with the mails that were in their respective possession. Some of the affected staff admitted committing the offence alleged against them, and pleaded for leniency. The respondent denied the allegation in her reply to a query given to her. In the course of investigating the allegation, the appellant constituted a disciplinary committee. The respondent appeared before the said committee. Following the recommendation of the committee, she was dismissed. The respondent as plaintiff instituted an action against the appellant as defendant in the Kwara State High Court, seeking the following reliefs:

“1.          A declaration that the defendant’s letter reference No. APM/KWT/14/3A/Vol. IV of 31st May, 1994, purporting to dismiss

the plaintiff is illegal, unfair, wrongful, null and void.

2. An order re-instating the plaintiff to her position as a mail porter and payment of her salaries and entitlements from 1st June, 1994.”

Pleadings were duly filed and exchanged by the parties. At the end of trial, the learned trial Judge gave judgment for the respondent.

Dissatisfied with the judgment, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal. The appeal court in determining the appeal, considered section 230(1) (q) , (r) and (s) of the 1979 Constitution which provides as follows : “Notwithstanding any thing to the contrary contained in this Constitution and in addition to such other jurisdiction as may be conferred upon it by an Act of the National Assembly or a Decree, the Federal High Court shall have and exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other court in civil causes or matters arising from -

(q)          the administration or the management and control of the Federal Government or any of its agencies.

(r)            subject to the provisions of the Constitution the operation and interpretation of this Constitution as far as it affects the Federal Government or any of its agencies. and

(s)           any action or proceeding for a declaration of injunction the validity of any exercise of administrative action or decision by the Federal Government or any of its agencies

Provided that nothing in the provisions of paragraphs (q) (r) and (s) of this sub section shall prevent a person from seeking a redress against the Federal Government or any of its agencies in an action for damages, injunction, or specific performance where the action is based on any enactment, law & equity”.