Laleye Oeyumi V. Lieutenant-governor, Western Region & Anor (1954)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Native Authority Ordinance (Cap. 140)—Section 30 (2) and (3)—Order thereunder administrative—Not challengeable in Court.
The text of the above section 30 (2) and (3) is given in the judgment infra.
Briefly, sub-section (2) enables a native authority to recommend a modification of native law and custom if it considers it expedient for the good government and welfare of the area, and sub-section (3) provides that ” if the Lieutenant-Governor is satisfied that . . . such modification is expedient and . . . not repugnant to justice, equity or good conscience nor incompatible . . . with any Ordinance, he may by order direct such modification to be the native law and custom/1 etc.
An order was published in the Gazette of the Western Region of 26th February, 1953, stating that the second respondent recommended certain modifications in native law and custom relating to the succession to the office of Bale, the relevant one here being that instead of confining it to a son of a previous Bale, it should be extended to a son or grandson, and directing that it be so thereafter. The order was made strictly in accordance with the terms of the sub-sections aforesaid.
The plaintiffs (now appellants) sued claiming a declaration that the order was ultra vires, and an injunction. The statement of claim and the defences extended it to a Chieftaincy dispute, and the trial Judge dismissed the action summarily on the ground that the Court had no jurisdiction in Chieftaincy disputes in view of Ordinance No. 30 of 1948. The plaintiffs appealed bn the ground that the object of their action was to test the validity of the order, whilst their action was dismissed on a ground outside the scope of their claim.
The plaintiffs were sons of a former Bale and their complaint (on which they wished to call evidence) was that the widening of the succession to include grandsons was detrimental to their interest and contrary to justice, there being an ulterior motive to benefit someone else as a candidate, and that the LieutenantGovernor made the order without holding an inquiry and hearing their views to satisfy himself of the expediency of the order.
The section did not provide for a statutory inquiry but left it to the Lieutenant-Governor to satisfy himself of the expediency of making an order adopting a modification recommended to him, as a purely administrative matter; at no stage was there anything in the nature of a lis inter partes before him, and an order made under the section was not impeachable in Court on the grounds on which a judicial or quasi-judicial decision might be impeached; therefore there could be no question of calling evidence to challenge the order.