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  • 2004-08-23
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Aikabeli v. African Petroleum Plc

B. I. AIKABELI

V

AFRICAN PETROLEUM PLC

COURT OF APPEAL

( BENIN DIVISION )

KUMAI BAYANG AKAAHS, JCA ( Presided )

AMINA ADAMU AUGIE, JCA ( Read the Lead Judgment )

NWALI SYLVESTER NGWUTA, JCA

CA/B/14/99

FRIDAY, 27TH FEBRUARY, 2004

CONTRACT - Breach of contract - Innocent party in a breach of contract Right of to rescind

CONTRACT - Dealership agreement - Nature of relationship created thereunder - Contractual and not master/servant relationship - Mode of termination of relationship

CONTRACT - Right of rescission - Meaning of

CONTRACT - Termination of for inadequate reasons - Validity of where contemporaneous facts which would have created good reasons exist

DOCUMENT - Interpretation of unambiguous words therein - Principles guiding

EQUITY - ‘Equity’ - Meaning of - Need for person who comes to equity to come with clean hands

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Right of rescission’ - Meaning of

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Equity’ -  Meaning of

Issues:

1.              Whether having regard to exhibit BA 4 and exhibit BA 7, the trial Judge was right in holding that the respondent was justified in withdrawing the appellant’s licence under exhibits BA 3a - d.

2.              Whether bearing in mind the totality of evidence, the learned trial Judge was right in dismissing the appellant’s claim in its entirety.

Facts:

The dispute in this case centers on a dealership agreement between the appellant and the respondent, wherein the appellant as licensee, sells or markets the respondent’s petroleum products. According to the appellant, his younger brother one Sunday Aikabeli whom he made head of his supporting staff and to whom he verbally delegated some of his powers of control and management of the respondent’s new Lagos Road Service Station, converted the products of the respondent in the service station to his own use to the tune of N253,776.06 which the appellant considered a trade loss. He stated that he explained to the satisfaction of the representatives of the respondent, that his younger brother and three other named staff used to share some proceeds of sale of the respondent’s petroleum products, especially fuel sales in the early hours of the day, and that he had relieved his younger brother of his job. Whereupon an agreement was reached as to how he would pay the entire debt on instalmental basis. He stated further that he later discovered that he could not meet the terms of payment on the agreement for which reason he wrote many letters requesting the respondent to vary the terms of the agreement by reducing the monthly instalmental payments. The respondent refused to grant appellant’s request. The respondent subsequently withdrew the appellant’s licence. Aggrieved, the appellant filed an action before the High Court, Benin City challenging the withdrawal of his licence by the respondent.

The trial court dismissed the appellant’s claim in its entirety.

Dissatisfied, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.