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  • 2012-09-17
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Ikenne L. G. v. West African Portland Cement Plc

IKENNE LOCAL GOVERNMENT

V

WEST AFRICAN PORTLAND CEMENT PLC

COURT OF APPEAL

( IBADAN DIVISION )

SIDI DAUDA BAGE JCA ( Presided )

MODUPE FASANMI JCA ( Read the Lead Judgment )

JOSEPH SHAGBAOR IKYEGH JCA

CA/I/175/2006

MONDAY, 21 MARCH 2011

ACTION - Cause of action - Reasonable cause of action - Whether disclosed - Determination of - Proper approach of court

APPEAL - Academic matters - Attitude of courts thereto

APPEAL - Issues for determination - Proliferation of - Impropriety of

COURT - Tax payable by companies to Federal Government Jurisdiction of Federal High Court thereon - Whether extends to matters related to occupational fees payable by companies

COURT - When is competent

INTERPRETATION OF STATUTES - Constitutional provisions and clear and unambiguous words of statute - Construction of - Proper approach of court thereto

JURISDICTION - Meaning of - Elements of - Issue of - Fundamental nature of - Basis of - When may be raised - Lack of - Effect of on proceedings - Determinant of

JURISDICTION - Tax payable by companies to Federal Government Jurisdiction of Federal High Court thereon - Whether extends to matters related to occupational fees payable by companies

LAND LAW - Statutory and customary right of occupancy on land Matters related to - Exclusive jurisdiction of State High Court on

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Reasonable cause of action - Whether disclosed - Determination of - Proper approach of court

Issues:

  1. Whether from the contents of the writ of summons and the statement of claim filed by the appellant in this case at the lower court, it can justifiably be held that the High Court of Ogun State lacks jurisdiction to entertain, hear and determine the appellant’s case against the respondent.
  2. Which High Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine disputes or cases arising from item 7 in part III of the Schedule of Taxes and Levies (Approved List for Collections) Decree No. 21 of 1998.
  3. Whether the case of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited v. Tai Local Government Council (2004) 10 Comm. LR 99 at 108  is indistinguishable and applicable to this case.
  4. Whether, in view of the provision of section 251(1)(b) of Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the court below was not right in striking out the appellant’s claim on the ground that it lacked the requisite jurisdiction to entertain the action.

Facts:

The plaintiff sued the defendant in the High Court of Ogun State claiming declaratory and injunctive reliefs that; the defendant is in physical occupation of the non-urban rural area parcel of land measuring approximately 50  acres along Iperu Isagamu road and having been in such occupation prior to 30 September 1998, the land is within the territorial and administrative jurisdiction of the plaintiff, pursuant to sections 1 and 2 of the Taxes and Levies (Approved List for Collection) Decree, 1998; the plaintiff is the appropriate tax authority entitled to assess or collect occupancy fees listed as item 7 in part III of the Schedule to the Decree aforesaid; the occupancy fees assessed, due and payable to the plaintiff by the defendant excludes and does not include any royalties compensation, rent or any surface rent paid or payable to the Federal and/or and Ogun State Governments under any enactment or law; orders of court that the defendant is liable to pay the occupancy fees as assessed; restraining the defendant from entering the land until payment of every outstanding sum representing the whole or part of its liability for occupancy fees as assessed with interest, payment of the fees with interest and penalties therefor. The defendant filed a notice of preliminary objection to the action on grounds of lack of reasonable cause of action, lack of jurisdiction and improper constitution. The trial court declined jurisdiction and ruled that the matter be heard by the Federal High Court. Aggrieved, the plaintiff appealed to the Court of Appeal. The defendant filed a cross-appeal.

In determination of the appeal, the Court of Appeal considered the following statute:

Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, section 251(1)(b):

“251(1) Notwithstanding anything 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, the Federal High Court shall have and exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other court in civil causes and matters;

b. connected with or pertaining to the section of companies and other bodies established or carrying on business in Nigeria and all other persons subject to Federal taxation”