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Mclaren vs. Jennings

1.      KEN McLAREN

2.      ABAY ABEBE

3.      J. C. ONUOHA

V

JAMES LLOYD JENNINGS

COURT OF APPEAL

( KADUNA DIVISION )

ISA AYO SALAMI, JCA ( Presided and Read the Lead Judgment )

MAHMUD MOHAMMED, JCA

DALHATU ADAMU, JCA

CA/K/97/2001

TUESDAY, 29TH OCTOBER, 2002

CONTRACT - Breach of contract to supply goods - Whether any lawful excuse exists to detain or arrest party in breach - Proper course to take

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Arrest and detention - Where defendant expressly directs police to arrest and detain a plaintiff -  Right of plaintiff to sue defendant for unlawful detention

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Arrest and detention - Whether Nigerian Police empowered to effect for purposes of collecting debt - Section 4, Police Act

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Arrest and detention of a person for breach of contract - Whether lawfully excusable

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Arrest and detention of plaintiff as an accused person - Circumstance when defendant as a complainant can be sued for false imprisonment

DEBT RECOVERY - Arrest and detention - Whether Nigerian Police empowered to effect for purposes of collecting debt - Section 4, Police Act

DEBT RECOVERY - Debtor - Procedure for procuring arrest and detention of a debtor

JURISDICTION - Jurisdiction of court - Relevance of statement of claim in determining

JURISDICTION - Jurisdiction of court - Territorial jurisdiction of Kano State High Court - Extent of

LEGAL PRACTITIONER - Counsel recovering debt - Need to refrain from resorting to rule of force

POLICE - Arrest and detention of a person for breach of contract Whether lawfully excusable

POLICE - Arrest and detention - Where defendant expressly directs police to arrest and detain a plaintiff - Right of plaintiff to sue defendant for unlawful detention

POLICE - Inspector-General of Police - Need to investigate misconduct and gross indiscipline of his officers in detaining plaintiff in a hotel

PUBLIC OFFICER - Police officer - Misconduct and gross indiscipline of - Need for Inspector-General to investigate

Issue:

Whether the plaintiff/respondent’s statement of claim in this suit dated the 2nd August, 1996 discloses a cause of action against the defendants/appellants for false detention or imprisonment in Kano and whether in the circumstances the High Court of Justice, Kano State cannot assume or exercise jurisdiction over the same.

Facts:

At the instance of the defendants/appellants herein, the plaintiff/ respondent herein was arrested in Kano and detained in Abuja by some Police Officers with a view to recovering advance payment of N1,628,428.27 made to the respondent by NICON-NOGA Hilton Hotels Limited. Having considered illegal his arrest and detention, the respondent herein filed a suit at Kano State High Court against the appellants claiming the sum of N5,000,000 as damages for wrongful arrest and unlawful detention.

On 1st day of September, 1977, the defendants/appellants brought an application challenging the competence of the Kano High Court to hear the action on ground of territorial jurisdiction. After both counsel’s argument, the learned trial Judge dismissed the application.

Being dissatisfied with the said ruling, the appellants herein brought this appeal to challenge the lower court’s decision.

The court considered section 4 of the Police Act, Cap. 359 of the Laws of the Federation, 1990:

“4. The police shall be employed for the prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension of offenders, the preservation of law and order, the protection of life and property and the due enforcement of all laws and regulations with which they are directly charged, and shall perform such military duties within or without Nigeria as may be required by them, or under the authority of, this or any other Act.”