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Yare v. N.S.W.I.C.

CHRISTIANA I. YARE

V

NATIONAL SALARIES, WAGES AND INCOME COMMISSION

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

CHRISTOPHER MITCHELL CHUKWUMA-ENEH JSC ( Presided )

MUHAMMAD SAIFULLAH MUNTAKA-COOMASSIE JSC

SULEIMAN GALADIMA JSC ( Read the Lead Judgment )

CLARA BATA OGUNBIYI JSC

STANLEY SHENKO ALAGOA JSC

SC. 254/2005

FRIDAY, 10 MAY 2013

ACTION - Cause of action - Meaning of - What consists of

APPEAL - Findings of fact by lower court - Where concurrent  - Attitude of Supreme Court to

EVIDENCE - Pleadings - Bindingness of parties and court by - Relevant facts - Mandatoriness of pleading and leading evidence in support - Unpleaded facts - Evidence led on - Irrelevance of

JURISDICTION - Invocation of jurisdiction of court - Claimant who seeks to - Onus on to present a reasonable cause of action Determinant of - Relevant process for

LIMITATION OF ACTION - Action - Failure to commence within statutorily prescribed time for - Legal consequences of  - When time begins to run for purposes of - When statute-barred - Effect of

PLEADINGS - Bindingness of parties and court by - Relevant facts Mandatoriness of pleading and leading evidence in support - Unpleaded facts - Evidence led on - Irrelevance of

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Cause of action’ - Meaning of -

Issue:

Whether the Court of Appeal was right to have upheld the decision of the Federal High Court in deciding that the cause of action arose from exhibit 7, without considering exhibit `8', which was tendered before the trial court.

Facts:

The appellant was an employee of the respondent.  He claimed that his appointment was terminated by the respondent on grounds of insurbodination and therefore commenced an action in the Federal High Court, Abuja challenging his dismissal, which was converted to retirement on grounds that it was irregular. He prayed the court for a declaration that his compulsory retirement was unlawful as it did not meet the requirements of the Civil Service Rules, orders, setting aside the retirement on grounds that the antecedents leading to same were unauthorized and unofficial, thus cannot result in an official sanction, reinstating him to his office without prejudice to any promotion or benefit he may have been entitled to and compelling the respondent to pay him all salaries and allowances from the date of the purported retirement till judgment. The respondent filed a preliminary objection challenging the action on grounds of it being statutebarred. The trial court dismissed the objection for failure of respondent to plead the date of the alleged retirement. After trial, the court found that the action of the appellant instituted one year after the cause of action, was statute-barred and dismissed his claims. Not satisfied, he appealed to the Court of Appeal where the decision of the trial court was affirmed. Not yet satisfied, he challenged the decision of the lower court by filing an appeal to the Supreme Court. He contended that the time his cause of action arose was wrongly computed and was therefore held to be statute-barred.

In determining the appeal, the Supreme Court considered the following statute:

Public Officers (Protection) Act, section 2(a)

“2. Where any action, prosecution or other proceeding is commenced against any person for any act done in pursuance or execution or intended execution of any Act or Law or of

any public duty or authority, or in respect of any alleged neglect or default in execution of any such Act, Law, duty or authority, the following provisions shall have effect:

(a) the action, prosecution or proceeding shall not lie or be instituted unless it is commenced within three months next after the act, neglect, or default complained of, or in case of a continuance of damage or injury, within three months next after the ceasing thereof: Provided that if the action, prosecution or proceeding be at the instance of any person for cause arising while such person was a convict prisoner, it may be commenced within three months after the discharge of such person from prison.”