Z. H. Parker V. Tribal Authority Of Kagboro Chiefdom (1953)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Tort—False imprisonment—Imprisonment under Native Court’s Order—Bona fide acts in reasonable belief that Court had jurisdiction—Offence against customary law within Courts jurisdiction.
The appellant had passed as a Sherbro, led the life of a native, obtained a trader’s licence issued only to natives, held land as a native and frequently sued in the Native Court of the Chiefdom.
The Native Court fined him for contempt; he said he would not pay and was committed to the lock-up; some persons improperly contrived his release; he would not obey a summons and was arrested under a warrant and sentenced for defying the authority of the Court.
Later the District Commissioner decided he was a non-native and therefore not amenable to the jurisdiction of the Tribal Authority, which he then sued for false imprisonment but failed; and he appealed, arguing that the Tribal Authority had not acted bona fide in arresting him, and that as regards the second imprisonment, which was the one complained of on appeal, the charge against him was one under section 15 of the Tribal Authority Ordinance of conspiring or attempting to undermine the lawful authority of a tribal authority, which could not be prosecuted without the consent of the Governor, and that meant that his arrest was unlawful.
The imprisonments were upon the orders of the Native Court, and the Tribal Authority, the defendant, was consequently not liable. And the circumstances also showed that both the Native Court and the Tribal Authority were acting bona fide and had reasonable grounds for believing that the appellant was subject to their jurisdiction.
Held also: The argument drawn from section 15 of the Tribal Authority Ordinance was untenable as the record of the Native Court, which was in evidence, showed that the appellant was punished the second time for defying the authority, etc., an offence against native customary law within the jurisdiction of the Court under section 7 (2) (6) of the Native Courts Ordinance (Cap. 149).