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Musa Namatazo V. Wright & Anor (1937) LJR-WACA

Musa Namatazo V. Wright & Anor (1937)

LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal

Action for false imprisonment—Legal effects of threats.

The following is the case stated in which the facts are sufficiently set out :-

” This was a case in which the plaintiff claimed from the defendants ‘ the Case Stated sum of £150 being damages for the unlawful acts committed by the defendants by

on the plaintiff to wit the defendants falsely imprisoning the plaintiff at Brooke, J. Minna ‘. between October 1934 and May 1935.

  1. The facts and arguments are set out at length in the judgment. The Court found that the case against the second defendant failed, but as regards the first defendant the Court held that it had been established that he had detained the plaintiff at Minna for a period of some six months in order that he might be called as a witness in a prosecution for illegal mining by threatening that he would have him arrested if he left, that the threat continued for the period of the detention and that, although the plaintiff stated in his evidence that he did not believe he would be arrested, the action of the first defendant constituted a false imprisonment.
  2. For the reasons given in the judgment it seemed to be a case suitable for the exercise of the power of the Court to reserve a question of law for consideration by the West African Court of Appeal. The decision was therefore given subject to the opinion of the Court of Appeal.
See also  Peter Obiyomi V. E. A. Joloko (1954) LJR-WACA

” QUESTION

” The question on which the opinion of the Court of Appeal is desired is whether the Court came to a correct decision in holding on the facts that a threat to arrest another with a show of authority to which that other submits is an imprisonment even though the plaintiff stated in his evidence that he did not think he would be arrested.

” (Sgd.) N. J. BROOKE,

” Judge.”

Plaintiff not represented.

Ivor Brace for First Defendant.

The following joint judgment was delivered :-

BUTLER LLOYD, Ag.C.J., NIGERIA, BAKER AND MARTIN-DALE, JJ.

This is a case stated by Mr. Justice Brooke for the opinion of this Court. The question upon which the opinion is sought is

” Whether the Court came to a correct decision in holding on the facts that a threat to arrest another with a show of authority to which that other submits is an imprisonment even though the plaintiff stated in his evidence that he did not think he would be arrested.”

Now the learned Judge, when stating the said case specified that the Court held that ” it had been established that first defendant had detained plaintiff at Minna ” for a period of some six months.

It seems to us that this finding, with which we entirely agree, disposes in effect of the whole issue in the case which was, ” dic plaintiff remain in Minna by reason of the threats which had been made to him or of his own free will ? “

What constitutes imprisonment has been long ago defined. It is to be found in a work of very good authority in the application of the common law Termes de la Ley in these words : ” Imprisonment is no other thing but the restraint of a man’s liberty whether it be in the open field or in the stocks or in the cage in the streets ” (referring to now obsolete methods of imprisonment) ” or in a man’s own house as well as in the common gaol and in all the places, the party so restrained is said to be a prisoner so long as he hath not his liberty freely to go at all times to all places whither he will.”

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The learned Judge has found that plaintiff was detained by first defendant. We are bound by that finding and plaintiff is entitled to succeed.

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