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C.B.N. v. Adedeji

CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA

V

MR. OLASUPO ADEDEJI

MR. CHIMEZIE C. AHANEKU

MR. G. A. NNAMDI OSAJI

MR. B. S. C. IGWEBUIKE

MR. P. O. OLUBOWALE

MR. N. A. OGUNBUYIDE

MRS. PATIKEM

DR. (MISS) JOYCE UKAIGWU

MR. WILSON ONYEFUNAZUA

MR. R. O. BALOGUN

MR. S. A. E. AHIRIMA

(For themselves and on behalf of the over one thousand staff of the CBN recently rationalized or relieved of their jobs)

ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION

COURT OF APPEAL

( LAGOS DIVISION )

JAMES OGENYI OGEBE JCA (Presided)

PIUS OLAYIWOLA ADEREMI JCA

MUSA DATTIJO MUHAMMAD JCA (Read the Lead Judgment)

CA/L/508/03

MONDAY, 19TH JULY, 2004

ACTION - Joinder of parties or causes - Whether permissible under the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2000

ACTION - Representative action - Lack of leave of court or authorization by persons allegedly represented - Effect on action -  Order 12, rule 8 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure )

Rules, 2000  considered

CONTRACT - Public Officers (Protection) Act, Cap. 379, Laws of the  Federation of Nigeria, 1990 - Inapplicability of to contract cases

COURT - Doctrine of stare-decisis - Operation of in the adjudication process explained

COURT - Representative action - Lack of leave of court or authorization by persons allegedly represented - Effect on action -  Order 12, rule 8 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure ) Rules, 2000  considered

INTERPRETATION OF STATUTE - Unambiguous words in statutes Need to give effect to

JUDICIAL PRECEDENT - Doctrine of stare-decisis - Operation of in the adjudication process explained

NOTABLE PRONOUNCEMENT - Termination of proceedings hurriedly -  Impropriety of

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2000 - Order 7, rule 8 thereof - Non-compliance therewith -  Treatment of where there has been an administrative lapse

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Joinder of parties or causes - Whether permissible under the Federal High Court ( Civil Procedure ) Rules, 2000

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Proceedings - Termination of hurriedly -  Impropriety of

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Representative action - Lack of leave of court or authorization by persons allegedly represented Effect on action - Order 12, rule 8 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2000 considered

PUBLIC OFFICERS - Privilege provided by the Public Officers ( Protection) Act - Whether applies to contract cases

PUBLIC OFFICERS - Public Officers (Protection) Act, Cap. 379 of 1990 -  Qualification of artificial and juristic persons as public officers thereunder

STATUTE - Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2000 - Joinder of persons thereunder -  Propriety of

STATUTE - Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2000 - Order 7 , rule 8 thereof - Non-compliance therewith - Treatment of where there has been an administrative lapse

STATUTE - Public Officers (Protection) Act, Cap. 379 of 1990 Inapplicability of to contract cases

STATUTE - Public Officers (Protection) Act, Cap. 379 of 1990 Qualification of artificial and juristic persons as public officers thereunder

Issues:

1.              Whether the action in the trial court was vitiated in respect of the unnamed parties who did not authorize its initiation and for which the approval of the trial court was neither sought nor given.

2.              Whether the learned trial Judge misdirected himself in law when he held that he did not think that the statement of law in Ukata vs. Ndinaeze (1997) 4  SCNJ 117 would apply where rules of court specifically permit the joinder of parties or causes of action, in that joinder was specifically forbidden by the rules of the High Court of Imo State.

3.              Whether the trial court was right in holding that non-compliance with Order 7, rule 8 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2000, was a mere irregularity which does not affect the competence of the action.

4.              Whether the plea that plaintiffs’ suit was statute-barred was wrongly overruled by the learned trial Judge.

Facts:

The plaintiffs (now respondents) initiated an action at the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, by way of originating summons against the appellant as one of the defendants. The employment of the respondents along with more than one thousand others was terminated by their employer, the appellant. Aggrieved by the termination, respondents for themselves and on behalf of the other employees sought from the lower court certain declaratory and injunctive reliefs against the appellant.

The appellant challenged the action by a motion in which it prayed

for the dismissal of the suit on several preliminary grounds viz:-

1.              There is neither authorization nor approval of this Honourable Court to commence the present suit which is purported to be a representative action.

2.              There is a misjoinder of parties.

3.              The originating summons was not validly issued.

4.              The action is statute-barred.

5.              The suit is incompetent and this Honourable Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain it.

The application was heard and in a considered ruling, the learned trial Judge found the objection unmeritorious on all grounds and dismissed it. Dissatisfied with the ruling, the appellant filed this appeal.