E. A. Oshodi V J. B. Egunjobi (1966) LLJR-SC

E. A. Oshodi V J. B. Egunjobi (1966)

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COKER, J.S.C.

This appeal is from the order of Madarikan, J., made on the 20th day of June, 1966, at the High Court, Ikeja. The order was made pursuant to an application by the applicant/ respondent that the appellant be joined as a “party” to the proceedings pending in the said court, i.e. Suit No. MK/18/65. The proceedings were commenced by an originating summons taken out manifestly by the applicant/respondent under the provisions of section 10(1) of the Public Lands Acquisition Law (Western Nigeria), Cap. 105. That section as amended provides as follows:-

“10. (1) If for six weeks after the service and publication as aforesaid of such notice no claim shall be lodged with the Permanent Secretary in respect of such lands, or if the person who may have lodged any claim and the Minister shall not agree as to the amount of the compensation to be paid for the estate or interest in such lands belonging to such person, or which he is by this Law enabled to sell and convey, or if such person has not given satisfactory evidence in support of his claim or if separate and conflicting claims are made in respect of the same lands, the amount of compensation due, if any, and every such case of disputed interest or title shall be settled by the High Court, which court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine in all cases mentioned in this section upon a summons taken out by the Minister, or any person holding or claiming any estate or interest in any lands named in any notice aforesaid, or enabled or claiming to be enabled by this Law to sell and convey the same.”

The sole issue in this appeal is whether the appellant could be rightly joined as a party in proceedings instituted in accordance with section 10.

It is relevant to consider same of the facts that emerge from the affidavits filed by the parties in this matter. It seemed that during the year 1961, whilst the appellant was in practice as a solicitor, he was engaged by the applicant/respondent to represent him in an action under the Public Lands Acquisition Law (supra) then pending in the High Court, Ikeja, for the purpose of claiming the compensation due to him for land in which he apparently claimed some interests. That action was Suit No. HK/97/61. In the course of those proceedings, there was a settlement to which the appellant claiming to represent the applicant/respondent agreed. That action was thereafter struck out. The applicant/respondent complained and still complains that at the time the appellant agreed to the settlement, he had already withdrawn his instructions from him, that the appellant therefore had no authority to compromise his claims and that indeed the amount of £700 claimed by the appellant to have been received by him on the settlement as fees for professional services, was in fact received on behalf of the applicant/respondent.

The applicant/respondent therefore applied by way of motion to the High Court, Ikeja, alleging the facts stated above and asking that the proceedings in Suit No. HK/97/61 should be reopened.

His application was however refused by order dated the 1lth December, 1961. On the 14th July, 1965, the applicant/respondent took out the summons involving the present appeal: he was shown on the summons as the applicant and the Minister of Lands & Housing and one Chief Fashola Akapo were shown respectively as the first and second respondents. The summons was stated to have been taken out for the determination of the following matter:

“The person or persons entitled to the compensation of £7,896 (Seven thousand eight hundred and ninety-six pounds) for 19.74 acres for that parcel of land at Okuta Village, Shomolu, in the Ikeja Division of the Colony Province described as Parcel 62 and described in the Notice dated 19th April, 1958 and published as Western Nigeria Notice No. 397 in the Western Nigeria Gazette No. 28 Volume 7 of the 24th April, 1958.”

On the return date to the summons the court ordered the parties to file their respective Statements of Interest. These were filed and both respondents to the originating summons referred to the previous proceedings, i.e. Suit No. HK/97/61, and the settlement thereof and claimed that the applicant/ respondent was bound thereby. The applicant/respondent thereupon applied to the High Court, Ikeja, by motion dated the 25th April, 1966, alleging these facts for an order that the appellant be joined “as a party to this action so that the issue of the amount of the compensation to which the plaintiff is entitled may be settled once and for all time…”. On the 20th June, 1966, the judge made the order that the appellant be joined as a party to the proceedings and this appeal is against that order.

For the appellant it was contended that whatever may be the nature of his liability to the applicant/respondent, he could not be made a party to the present proceedings since he is not claiming any title or interest in the property concerned let alone any part of the amount of compensation, if any, to be awarded or paid. It was urged on us by counsel for the applicant/respondent that the appellant was rightly joined as it had been alleged that he acted without authority in settling the previous case out of court and received part of the compensation money whether for himself or for the applicant/ respondent. The argument begs the question, for the issue is not whether or not the appellant is liable in any event to the applicant but whether he could be properly made a party to proceedings initiated by way of originating summons under section 10 of the Public Lands Acquisition Law (supra).

The procedure by section 10 was created to provide an expeditious way of dealing with competing claims of title or other interests in property which has been compulsorily acquired by the Government or other statutory bodies. As the appellant claims neither title to nor any interests in the property involved in the proceedings, it seems to us that he could not be properly made a party to such proceedings. Counsel for the applicant/ respondent sought in aid of his contention the provisions of Order 7, rules 4, 5 and 6 of the High Court (Western Nigeria) Rules of Court. It is sufficient to point out that it is not intended that these rules should be ridiculously applied and where, as in the present case, it is manifest from the nature of the proceedings that a person may not be properly made a party thereto, these Rules are clearly of no relevance.

We have come to the conclusion, therefore, that the order of the 20th June, 1966, joining the appellant as a party to the proceedings before the court, was wrong. The appeal therefore succeeds and the order appealed from is set aside. It is ordered that the application of the applicant/respondent dated the 25th day of April, 1966, in Suit No. MK/18/65, be and it is hereby dismissed. The applicant/respondent shall pay to the appellant the costs of the application in the court below fixed at 5 guineas. He shall also pay the appellant costs on this appeal fixed at 15guineas.

We make no order for costs in respect of the Minister of Lands and Housing who, although he was represented, took no part in the proceedings.


Other Citation: (1966) LCN/1299(SC)

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