IN THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT OF NIGERIA
IN THE KANO JUDICIAL DIVISION
HOLDEN AT KANO
Before His Lordship:-
HON. JUSTICE E.D. E ISELE - JUDGE
DATE: 26th/06/2019 - SUIT NO: NICN/KN/39/2018
OMOLOLA TAWAKALITU MOHAMMED................................PLAINTAFF
CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA
FIRST BANK OF NIGERIA PLC DEFENDANTS
REPRESENTATION: parties absent.
Amin Adamu Ibrahim for the claimant Respondent.
C.S Okpo for the 2nd Defendant.
The claimant commenced this action by her writ filed initially at the Federal High Court Kano on the 3rd of March 2018 from which court the matter was transferred to this court.
In the writ the claimant is challenging the inclusion of her name in the Black book and miscellaneous offences Register of the 1st Defendants which she contends has affected her prospects of working in the Banking Industry.
Upon transfer to this court the writ of complaint bearing the same claims was filed before this court on the 21st of November 2018. At the hearing of the 29th April 2019, counsel for the claimant moved the motion filed on 20th March 2019 which motion sought the following orders
An Order for leave to Amend the claimant’s originating process dated 21st November, 2018 and filed on the 21st November 2018 in the manner shown in exhibit 1 attached to this affidavit in support of this motion by the claimant dated 19th March, 2018 and filed 19th Match, 2018.
An Order for extension of time within which the Claimant/Applicant to file her counter affidavit and written address in response to the 1st Defendant’s preliminary objection
An Order deeming the Claimant/Applicant counter affidavit and written address to the 1st Defendant/Applicant’s preliminary object as properly filed and served.
The prayers/orders were all granted as counsel to the 1st and 2nd Defendant did not object to the grant of the reliefs sought by the claimant.
The 1st Defendant then moved the notice of preliminary objection filed on the 8th of March 2019. The grounds of the objection being that:
The suit of the claimant is statute barred.
The Claimants/Respondent’s originating process is incomplete
It is necessary in the circumstances that the court makes an order striking out the suit for lack of jurisdiction. The P.O was supported by the affidavit of Christie Udoh where she had deposed to the fact that the Claimant’s cause of action arose when she resigned from the employment of the 2nd Defendant on May, 28 2015. Upon alleged negative clearance report by the 1st Defendant that the claimant’s writ of summons was first filed at the Federal High Court on the 24th April, 2018 and later in this court on November 21, 2018, more than 2 and a half years after the cause of action had arisen. That the 1st Defendant is a Public Officer within the contemplation of the 5th Schedule to the Nigerian Constitution Act, LFN, 2010.
In the written address in support of the NPO the following issues for were formulated for determination.
Whether the claimants cause of action is not barred by the provision of section 2 (a) of the Public Officers Protection Act, LFN 2010.
Whether the claimant’s originating process is not incompetent
If it is, whether the court has jurisdiction.
The claimant in response filed a counter affidavit deposed to by the claimant where she admitted resigning from the employment of the 2nd Defendant on May 20th 2018 upon alleged negative clearance report by the 1st Defendant. That when she could not secure work and she become aware she wrote a letter to confirm the cause from the 1st Defendant, due to the fact that her former employer (Access Bank PLC) already sent a letter dated 07 March 2013 to the 1st Defendant to update its record. That by the letter dated 8th January, 2018 (received by her (claimant on 16th January 2018) as pleaded in paragraph 11 of her statement of claim she filed a suit before the Federal High Court on 8th March, 2018 within 3 months.
She averred that the 1st Defendant maliciously and negligentlyment ahead and gave negative clearance towards her working career in its letter to the 2nd Defendant dated May, 17 2013 and not an act in semblance of justification which is not covered by the Public Officers Protection Act. That the nature of the injury caused to her is perpetual in nature i.e continuing damage which the provision of the Public Officers Protection Act is not applicable.
In the written address in support of the counter affidavit the claimant formulated 2 issues for determination
Whether or not section 2 (a) of the Public Officers Protection Act is applicable in this suit.
Whether this Honourable Court uses technical objection to render originating process incompetent.
The 2nd Defendant also filed a preliminary objection on the 14th of February 2019 praying the court for the following Orders:
An Order of court dismissing this suit as it relates to the 2nd Defendant and striking out the name of the 2nd Defendant from the suit for failure on the part of the Claimant/Respondent to reveal any cause of action against the 2nd Defendant in her statement of claim.
The grounds for the objection were
That from the pleadings of the Claimant, no cause of action has been established against the 2nd Defendant applicant who confers upon the claimant the requisite locus standi to sue the 2nd Defendant/Applicant.
That none of the reliefs sought by the Plaintiff affects the 2nd Defendant/Applicant.
That it would serve the interest of justice to relieve the applicant from this (suit) having shown not to have any nexus with the plaintiff Respondent’s grievance.
In the issue for determination in the written address the 2nd Defendant submitted
“Whether the claimant’s statement of claim has revealed any cause of action against the 2nd Defendant.”
2nd Defendant then went on to submit that the claimant’s statement of claim had disclosed no cause of action against the 2nd Defendant, citing the case of EGBE V. ADEFARASIN (1987) 18 NSC C (PT.1) 1, AMONGST OTHERS SUCH AS ABUBAKAR VS. BEBEJI OIL AND ALLIED PRODUCTS LTD (2007) 18 NWLR(PT 1066) 319 SC at P. 301 paras A-B where the Supreme Court in defining cause of action had held that......
There must in essence be a wrongful act of a party (i.e the party sued), which has injured or given the Plaintiff a reason to complain in a court of law for remedy of consequent damage to the party aggrieved.
In response the claimant formulated the issue: whether the application of the claimant is meritorious”. and went on to submit that the 2nd Defendant/Applicant is a necessary party without whom the case will not go efficaciously, citing REG’D TRUSTEES N.A. CH. P. N. VS. M. H. N. (2008) ALL FWLR (pt 412) AT 1074.
I have had cause to go through all the arguments for and against the two preliminary objections. In the first raised by the 1st Defendant it is clear to me at this stage that the trigger for the current action of the claimant is the central bank letter of 8th January 2018 and this action was filed on the 8th March 2018 60 or so days after which is well within the time to bring an action against a public officer such as the first Defendant. The action is therefore not statute barred and I do so hold. I further hold that, to reckon that it must be some time back in 2015 when the claimant resigned from her former employer is clearly misplaced because they are not public officers and the Public Officers Protection Act will not apply to her former employers.
With regard to the 2nd preliminary objection that no cause of action is disclosed against the 2nd Defendant. I am in agreement with the submission of the claimant who has placed reliance on the complaint itself which I had referred to at the beginning of this ruling. It however bears repeating in part at this stage where the claimant had claimed against the Defendants that
“the claimant was employed by the 2nd Defendant in its establishment on 4th day of June 2012 on Manager grade but caused the claimant to resign her appointment on the receipt of a letter from the 1st Defendant advising that the claimant’s name is in the black book and miscellaneous offences register and the 2nd Defendant has despite repeated demands to release the original letter to enable the claimant confirm the faithfulness of the statement”.
This I find shows that the 2nd Defendant cannot be done away at this stage as a party and I do so hold.
Both preliminary objections are consequently struck out and the case to proceed to trial.
Ruling is entered accordingly.
HON. JUSTICE E. D. E. ISELE