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Yahaya v. Munchika

AIR VICE-MARSHAL MAHMOUD YAHAYA

V

MAJOR HASSAN T. MUNCHIKA

COURT OF APPEAL

( KADUNA DIVISION )

ISA AYO SALAMI,  JCA ( Presided )

RABIU DANLAMI MUHAMMAD,  JCA

MAHMUD MOHAMMED,  JCA  ( Read the Lead Judgment )

CA/K/196/98

FRIDAY, 3RD MARCH, 2000

ACTION - Cause of action in libel - What constitutes

APPEAL - Omnibus ground in civil appeal - How couched

APPEAL - Raising of fresh points on appeal - How done

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Obstruction of the course of Justice - What amounts to in traffic offence case

DAMAGES - Award of in libel cases - Governing principles

DEFAMATION - Alleged defamatory words - How construed

DEFAMATION - Libel - Essential ingredients of

DEFAMATION - Libel - Publication of alleged libellous statement - How established

DEFAMATION - List of names defamatory material copied not specifically pleaded -  Whether defamation proved by merely tending the document in evidence DEFAMATION - Plea of justification - Proof of

JUSTICE - Interference with course of justice by a highly placed citizen Unlawfulness and impropriety of

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Evidence - Need for claim bordering on declaration to be proved strictly by oral evidence

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Pleadings - Statement of Claim - Whether supersedes writ of summons

WORDS AND PHRASES - Publication  - Meaning of

Issue:

Having regard to the state of the appellant’s statement of claim and his evidence, whether the necessary ingredients of libel were established, thereby making the dismissal of the appellant’s suit by the lower court unjustifiable.

Facts:

By his writ of summons and statement of claim filed in the Kaduna State High Court, the appellant, as the plaintiff, claimed against the respondent who was the defendant as follows:

“Damages against the defendant in the sum of N10,000,000.00 (Ten Million Naira) arising from a libel which the defendant falsely and maliciously wrote and published in a letter titled “PETITION FOR

REDRESS AGAINST AVM. YAHAYA MAHMOOD (RTD) AND SQN. LDR. AMEGO” to the Commissioner for Police, dated 31st of December, 1996 and copied to and concerning the plaintiff in the following manner, amongst others:

‘... from all indications they had put a full stop to the case since they retrieved their car which was barely damaged by the  impact ...’

The AVM., who was not the driver of the vehicle, has used his position as a retired Senior Military Officer to see that his son does not  face the law as required, and together with Sqn. Ldr. Amego, have violated all procedures of law as laid down in a civil case, of which this is one ...’ Page 5 of the petition.”

At the hearing of the case, the respondent never participated, he neither entered appearance nor filed any defence, and so, the case was decided on the unchallenged evidence of the appellant.

In his judgment delivered on 1/4/98, Abiriyi, J, after reviewing the evidence on record, came to the conclusion that the appellant did not  prove his case against the appellant and, therefore, dismissed the claim.

Aggrieved, the plaintiff/appellant appealed  to the Court of Appeal.  In determining the appeal, the Court of Appeal considered the law relating to libel.