IN THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT OF NIGERIA
IN THE BENIN JUDICIAL DIVISION
HOLDEN AT BENIN
BEFORE HIS LORDSHIP HON. JUSTICE A.A. ADEWEMIMO
DATED: 1ST APRIL, 2020
ABUDUSALAMI BRAIMAH ……………………… CLAIMANT
1. ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH OFFICERS
ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (EHOAN)
2. FRANCISF. AFENGBAI, PRESIDENT,
EHOAN, EDSO STATE CHAPTER
EDO STATE LOCAL GOVERNMENT
4. INCORPORATED TRUSTESS OF
THE NIGERIA ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
OFFICERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (EHOAN)
5. ISIRAMEN A FRIDAY
Luqman Muhammed Esq. for the Claimant/Respondent
K.O. Ojemeh with P.I. Aifuwa, for the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Defendants
D.O. Ekhane for the 3rd Defendant/Applicant
1. The claimant instituted this suit by complaint filed on 29th January, 2019, seeking the following reliefs against the defendants:
a) A DECLARATION that the deduction of 3% ( Three Percent ) from the basic monthly salaries of the claimant and other members of the 1st Defendant in the unified Local Government Service Commission of Edo state by the 2nd and 3rd Defendants as monthly subscription or check off dues to the 1st Defendant is outrageously prohibitive, discriminatory, wrongful, illegal and unconstitutional.
b) A DECLARATION that the purported resolution of the of the 1st and 2nd Defendants at a meeting of 9th July, 2004 to adopt check off due system of collecting monthly subscription from her members in Edo State including those in the employment of the unified Local Government Service, Edo State at the rate of 3% from the basic monthly salaries of the Claimant and other of her members which was conveyed by the 2nd Defendant to the 3rd Defendant in a letter dated 9th August, 2004 with reference No: EHOAN/ED/2/174 outside the clear provisions of the constitution of the 1st Defendant is ultra vires the powers of the 2nd Defendant and is therefore illegal, unconstitutional null and void, and of no effect whatsoever.
c) A DECLARATION that the 3rd Defendant is not legally competent to issue or endorse her letter with reference No. AD/354/T!/125 to permit or direct the enforcement of an illegal, unconstitutional, exploitative, outrageously prohibitive and discriminatory check off due system of 3% of the basic salaries of the Claimant and other members of the 1st Defendant in the unified Local Government service of Edo State as monthly subscription by all the Local Government Chairmen in Edo State.
d) AN ORDER setting aside the 2nd Defendant’s letter referenced EHOAN/ED/2/174 purportedly conveying the resolution of 9th July, 2004 as well as the 3rd Defendant letter referenced AD/354/TI/125 both in respect of the deduction of 3% of basic monthly salaries of the Claimant and other members of the 1st Defendant in the service of the 3rd Defendant as monthly subscription or check off dues.
e) AN ORDER directing the 2nd Defendant to render account of how much has accrued to her from the implementation of the 3% deduction at source from the monthly salaries of the Claimant and other members of the 1st Defendant in the service of the 3rd Defendant as monthly subscription or check off dues from 2004 till date.
f) AN ORDER directing the 2nd and 3rd Defendants jointly and severally to refund to the Claimant the sum ofN1,104,130.41 (One Million, onehundred and four Thousand, one hundred and thirty naira, forty one kobo )being the amount of money in excess of the constitutionally prescribed annual subscription or check off due of N6000.00 illegally deducted at source from the Claimant’s monthly salaries from the period of January, 2008 till December 2018, and thereafter such other additional sum which may have become accruable by reason of illegal deduction until judgment is delivered in this case.
g) AN ORDER OF MANDATORY INJUNCTION compelling the 2nd and 3rd Defendants to revert to the status quo ante of collecting monthly subscription and /or check off dues from members of the 1st Defendant at the constitutionally prescribed rate of N6000 per annum at N500 per month before the 2nd and 3rd Defendants purported letters’ referenced EHOAN/ED/2/174 and AD/354/TI/125 respectively
h) AN ORDER OF PERPETUAL INJUNCTION restraining the defendants particularly the 2nd and 3rd Defendants whether by themselves, agents, servants and/ or privies howsoever from further collecting, deducting or permitting to collect or deduct 3% of basic monthly salaries of the Claimant and other members of the 1st Defendant in the service of the 3rd Defendant as monthly subscription or check off dues in excess of the prescribed constitutional subscription fees of N500 per month allowed by the constitution of the 1st Defendant.
i) A DECLARATION that the contents of the letter dated 8th may, 2016 particularly paragraphs 3 and 4 thereof written and endorsed by the 5th Defendant on behalf of the 2nd Defendant to the Claimant is highly scandalous, defamatory and libelous of the Claimant.
j) The sum of N50, 000,000.00 (Fifty Million Naira) only being aggravated or exemplary damages on account of the said defamatory or libelous letter dated 8th May, 2016.
k) The sum of N1, 000,000.00(one million naira) only as cost of filing this action.
2. The parties have exchanged pleadings in this suit, the claimant having served the defendants with his originating processes, to which the 1st, 2nd 4th and 5th defendants responded by filing their memorandum of appearance on the 8th of February. 2019, and a joint statement of defence deemed properly filed on the 17th of February. 2020. The 3rd defendant on its own part filed a memorandum of conditional appearance which was deemed properly filed on the 4th of April, 2019 and its statement of defence was deemed properly filed on 17th of February, 2020.
3. However, the subject matter of this ruling is the 3rd Defendant/Applicant’s Notice of Preliminary Objection dated 1st of April, 2019 and filed on 3rd of April, 2019, praying for an order striking out this suit for being incompetent.
4. The claimant/Respondent and the 3rd defendant/Applicant filed their affidavits and written addresses in respect of the objection.
4. The objection of the 3rd defendant/Applicant was predicated on the grounds that:
I. The claimant failed to comply with the conditions precedent to institution of court action against the 3rd defendant as laid down in section 152(1) & (2) of the Edo State Local Government Law, 2000 as amended before instituting this action;
II. That this Honourable court lacks jurisdiction to entertain same.
5. The objection was supported by a 9 paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Musa Francis, male, adult Christian a litigation officer in the 3rd defendant/applicant, accompanied by a written address in compliance with the Rules of court. The applicant also filed a “reply to the claimant’s affidavit” deposed to by Musa Francis and a reply on point of law dated 14th February, 2020.
6. The claimant in response filed a 9 paragraph counter-affidavit with two Exhibits attached and marked Exhibits AB1 and AB2. The counter-affidavit wasdeposed to on the 30th of May, 2019, by one JattoTopa, male, Christian, adult, legal practitioner in the law firm of Luqman Muhammad & Co. and accompanied by a written address, dated 29th May, 2019, and filed 30th May, 2019.The application was set down for hearingon the 3rd of March, 2020, when parties adopted their written addresses in respect of the application.
7. D.O. EkhaneEsq of counsel for the 3rd Defendant/Applicant moving his application relied on the affidavit filed and submissions in his written address. Learned counsel submitted that the Edo state Local Government Law 2000 as amended, is the law regulating the commencement or institution of actions against the Local Government councils in the State, and cited Sections 151 and 152 (1& 2) of the Law. Learned counsel argued that where a legislation clearly stipulates the procedure to be followed when an act or a decision of an authority is challenged, the decision can only be successfully challenged in the manner laid down by the statute, he relied on Faloye v Omoseni (2001) 9 NWLR Pt. 717, 190 @ 200-201 paras. H-H and OWOSENI V. FALOYE 2005, 14 NWLR (PT 946) 719 @725- 928. He stated further that under that Law, any action against a Local Government Council is to be preceded by a month pre-action notice to be issued on the Council.
8. Learned counsel cited EGUAMWENSE V. AMAGHIZEMWEN 1993 9 NWLR PT. 315@ PG1, to support his argument that strict compliance with the provisions of the law is required.
9. He added that failure to exhibit compliance with the provisions of Section 152 (1) & (2) of the stated law makes the action premature and robs this Court of the requisite jurisdiction to adjudicate in the matter. He placed reliance on several authorities on the necessity and importance of a pre-action notice, and in particularFeed & Food Farms (NIG.) LTD V. NNPC (2009) 17 W.R.N. page 1 at page 26.
10. He finally submitted that failure of the claimant to give 3rd defendant/ Applicant a pre-action notice before the initiation of this suit robs the court of the jurisdiction to hear and determine the suit. He urged the Court to strike out the suit for being incompetent.
11. Further to the above and in response to the Respondents counter-Affidavit, the Applicant relied on its affidavit titled “reply to the claimant’s affidavit” and adopted the reply on point of law filed by D.O. Ekhane Esq. whereintheapplicant submittedthat Exhibits AB-1 and AB-2 attached to the Respondent’s counter affidavit do not meet the requirement of pre-action notice. He argued that Exhibit AB-1 was neither addressed to nor served on the 3rd Applicant and both exhibits did not state the cause of action, the name and place of abode of the intending plaintiff and the relief sought. Furthermore, the exhibits did not disclose that a decision was made by the Claimant to commence an action against the Applicant. He stated that Exhibits AB–1 and AB-2 were written not less than two years before the commencement of this action and therefore argued that the Exhibits cannot be said to be a pre action notice in this suit which was commenced in 2019, he thereafter placed reliance on Ministry of Education, Anambra State V. Asikpo (2014) 14 NWLR (Pt. 1427) page 351 at page 380-381, paras, G-B. Learned counsel also contended that the 3rd Defendant is a creation of the Edo State Local Government Law 2000 (as amended) with specific duties in the area of control over the staff of the Local Government, and by virtue of the Interpretation Act Cap. 192 Laws of the Federation, the provision of Section 152 of the Law applies to the Applicant. He cited Aiyelabegan v Local Government Service Commission, Ilorin Kwara State (2009) 22 W.R.N. page 151 paras. 25-45 and urged the court to strike out this suit against the 3rd Defendant/Applicant.
12. Luqman Muhammad Esq. of counsel for the claimant/Respondent in his response relied on the claimant’s counter affidavit and his adopted written address, wherein he submitted one issue for determination, to wit
Whether this suit is competent and maintainable against the 3rddefendant.
13. Learned Counsel argued that the action is competent, and the provisions of sections 151 and 152(1&2) of the Edo State Local Government Law, 2000, are not applicable to the 3rd Defendant/Applicant. He continued that theprovisions are only applicable to legal proceedings against Local Government Council created by section 2 (1) of Edo State Local Government Law, 2000. He submittedthat the council is distinct and distinguishable from the Applicant, i.e. a commission established by section 60 of the same law. He added that the law is trite that in the interpretation of statutes the ordinary, plain and natural meaning of the words used should be applied, and cited Chigbu V. Tonimas (Nig.) Ltd (2006) 31 WRN 79 Ratio 1
14. Counsel for the claimant submitted further that assuming even that the provisions of sections 151 and 152 of theEdo State Local Government Law, 2000 (as amended) are applicable to the Applicant, the Claimant has satisfied the requirement of pre-action notice by the service of Exhibits AB-1 and AB-2 on the Applicant. He continued that the essence of a pre-action notice is to put the defendant on notice of the claimant’s intention to initiate legal proceedings against it, and pointed out that Exhibits “AB-1” and “AB-2” were served on the Applicant months before this suit was filed.
15. He submitted that the purpose of a pre-action notice is notto oust the jurisdiction of the court, but to prevent litigation where amicable settlement is possible, he relied on Owoseni v. Faloye (2005) 24, NSCQR, 25 AT 30. Learned counsel added that giving effect to the provisions of the Law on pre-action notice, after the steps taken bythe claimantin this suit, will amount to a denial of his right to fair hearing and access to court as providedunderSection 36 of the 1999 CFRN.
16. The claimant’s counsel further submitted that it is undesirable to give effect to a rule of law which will merely enable a party to score a technical knockout at the expense of hearing a matter on the merit, and citedLong John V Blakk (1998) 59 LRCN 3864 @ 3871 Ratio 10,8. He continued that irregularity concerning procedures, should not vitiate the main suit unless the applicant shows that a miscarriage of justice will be occasioned, citing Famfa Oil Ltd V A.G Federation (2003) 112 LRCN 2127 @ 2130 RATIO 3 &4.
17. Learned Counsel contended that the 3rd defendant/ Applicant having joined issues in this suit by filing its defence and other processes, are deemed to have waived their right, if any, to allegeany irregularity in procedure, and relied onKossen (Nig) V. Savannah Bank (1995) 33 NRCN 543-546 Ratio 1 & 2. He finally submitted that the application should be dismissed in its entirety, and with substantial cost.
18. It is on record that the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th defendants, did not file any process in respect of the present application, their counsel K.O Ojeme however elected to align himself to the submissions of the Applicant’s preliminary objection.
19. I have thoroughly read the Preliminary objection filed by the 3rd Defendant/ Applicant, the affidavits filed by parties and the written submissions of counsel adopted at the hearing of this application and I thereafter formulated a sole issue that will best resolve this matter, to wit;
Whether or not this action is incompetent or not by virtue of Sections 151and 152 (1) & (2) of theEdo State, Local Government law, 2000 as amended.
20. As an aside, the issue of limitation of action provided under Section 151 of the Edo State Local Government Law, 2000 (as amended) although included by the Applicant in the grounds for his objectionwas not canvassed by the Applicant or any of the parties in the processes filedbefore me in respect of this application. The issue canvassed by the parties in this application revolves around the provisions of the law on pre-action notice, and I will therefore restrict myself to same.
21. The Applicant predicated his objection on the ground that the claimant failed to serve it with a pre-action notice as required by the provisions of the Edo State Local Government law, 2000 as amended, thereby rendering the claimant’s action incompetent and, robbing thecourt of the requisite jurisdiction to entertain this suit.
22. The term “jurisdiction” was defined by Uwa JCA in Mrs. OlubunmiOgunde v Gateway Transit Ltd. Anor.(2010) LPELR-4692(CA) Pg. 20 as “the power of the court to hear and determine the subject matter in controversy between the parties.
23. In other words, the court is said to possess the jurisdiction to adjudicateover a suit when it has satisfied certain tests as laid down by a plethora of authorities. This test was well laid down byBairamian, F.J. in Madukolu&Ors v Nkemdilim (1962) LPELR-24023(SC) as follows:
“… a court is competent when (1) it is properly constituted as regards numbers and qualifications of members of the bench and no member is disqualified for one reason or another; and (2) the subject matter of the case is within jurisdiction, and there is no feature in the case which prevents the court from exercising its jurisdiction: and (3) the case comes before the court initiated by due process of law, and upon fulfilment of any condition precedent to the exercise of jurisdiction. Any defect in competence is fatal, for proceedings are a nullity however well conducted and decided: the defect is extrinsic to the adjudication.”
24. It is deducible from the principles enunciated above,that a court must be clothed with the jurisdiction in order to competently and validly hear and determine a suit, asdecisions reached in the absence of jurisdiction are void and of no effect whatsoever.
25. In issue in the instant case is, whether the failure of the claimant to issue a pre-action notice to the Applicant will render this suit incompetent.
26. It is trite law that the purpose of apre-action notice is to afford an entitled party of the opportunity to resolve a dispute before an issue results into a court action. The essence of pre-action notice was well espoused by Onyemenam JCA in Aboshi v Fele&Ors. (2012) LPELR-8610(CA) where it was held as follows:
“… It is meant to assist such a person or agency, after thorough study of the claim against him (it) decide on what to do in the matter; whether to negotiate and reach a compromise with the plaintiff or decide to go all the way into legal battle so as to have a judicial pronouncement on the point in dispute. Generally the pre-action notice serves to erase surprise and allow a party to have adequate time to prepare to deal with the claim against it.”
27. Also worthy of note is the position of the law that failure to serve a pre-action will not strip the court of the jurisdiction to entertain a suit ab initio, as it is a mere procedural requirement, and once satisfied, the aggrieved party will have recourse to the court, see Sarki&Ors v Ministry of Chieftaincy Affairs, Kaduna State &Ors. (2014) LPELR-23604 (CA) Pg. 18, where Akeju JCA held as follows
“…… a pre-action notice is required to be served before commencing a suit, the consequence of failure to do so is that the jurisdiction of the Court has not been activated but put in abeyance until the requirement is fulfilled.”
28. It follows therefore that in instances where pre-action notice is required, an action commenced in the absence of same cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the court, until well satisfied.See Ntiero v Nigerian Ports Authority(2008) LPELR-2073 (SC) pg. 22, where Muhammad JSC held as follows:
“It may be mentioned that the effect of non-service of a pre-action notice, where it is statutorily required, as in this case is only an irregularity which, however, renders an action incompetent. It follows therefore that the irregularity can be waived by a defendant who fails to raise it either by motion or plead it in the statement of defence… If, therefore, a defendant refuses to waive it and he raises it, then the issue becomes a condition precedent which must be met before the court could exercise its jurisdiction.”
29. It is trite law that acquiescence will not confer jurisdiction on a court, the holding of Oredola JCA, in Ewinstel Nigeria Ltd. v Abia (2011) LPELR-4132(CA) Pg. 20is instructive on this,where his lordship held that:
“Indeed, where a court lacks or has lost jurisdiction or competence to entertain an action or continue with the same, the parties to the suit or the court itself byacquiescence, waiver, silence or even agreement cannot confer jurisdiction or competence on the court.”
30. However, in instances of pre-action notice as in the instant suit, a party can elect to waive his right to a pre-action notice and this will not affect the jurisdiction of the court, but once it is raised and timeously, the court is duty bound to uphold same, if found to be applicable to the entitled party. Thus, the submission of the claimant’s counsel that the Applicant waived its right to raise an objection having filed a defence in this suit is flawed and misconceived, themere fact that the Applicant filed a defence in this suit will not amount to a waiver, consideringthe fact that this objection was filedtimeously before the commencement of trial and well before the conclusion of trial.I so hold
31. The position of the Respondent in this application is that the Applicant is not entitled to a pre-action notice. Learned counsel further contended that the provisions of Section 151 and 152 of Edo State Local Government Law, 2000 as amendedare only applicable to Local Government Councils, and not the Local Government Service Commission i.e. 3rd defendant/Applicant. In resolving this issue, the provisions of Sections 151 and 152(1)&(2) of Edo State Local Government Law, 2000 (as amended) will be examined and is reproduced below:
S.151. When any suit is commenced against any local government Council for any act done in pursuance of or execution or intended execution of any law or of any public duty or authority or in respect of any alleged neglect or default in the execution of such law, duty, or authority, such suit shall not be or be instituted unless it is commenced within six months next after the act, neglect of default complained of, or in the continuance of damage or injury, within six months after the ceasing thereof.
S.152. (1) No suit shall be commenced against Local Government Council until one
month at least, after written notice of intention to commence the same has
been served upon the Local Government by the intending plaintiff or his agent.
(2) a notice given under sub-section (1) of this section shall state the cause of
action, the name and address of the intending plaintiff and the relief which heclaims.”
32. It is the position of law that where the words of a statute are clear and unambiguous, the court shall restrict itself to their ordinary, simple, natural and grammatical meaning in order to give effect to the manifest intention of the lawmakers, see Corporate Ideal Insurance Ltd. v Ajaokuta Steel Company Ltd &Ors. (2014) LPELR-22255(SC) Pg. 31, where Okoro JSC held:
“It is trite that a cardinal rule of interpretation of statute is that where the words of a statute are clear and unambiguous, the courts are to give them their plain ordinary meaning. It does not require any special canon of interpretation. This has been the position in several decided cases.
33. It is also the law that the express mention of one thing in a statute connotes the exclusion of the other, that is “expressio unis exclusioalteriussee the holding of Obaseki-Adejumo JCA in Ugo-Ngadi v Federal Republic of Nigeria (2015) LPELR-24824(CA)Pg. 21, where his lordship held that:
“It is trite law, based on the principle of “expressio unis exclusioalterrius”, that the express and unambiguous mention of one thing in a statutory provision, automatically excludes any other which otherwise would have applied by implication with regard to the same issue.”
34. In the same spirit,Okoro JSC inPeoples Democratic Party (PDP) V. Independent National Electoral Commission &Ors. (2014) LPELR-23808(SC) held that:
“The cardinal principle in the interpretation of statutes is that the meaning of a statute or legislation must be derived from the plain and unambiguous expressions or words used therein rather than from any notion that may be entertained as to what is just and expedient. The literal rule of interpretation is always preferable unless it would lead to absurdity and inconsistency with the provisions of the statute as a whole.”
35. The provisions of Sections 151 and 152reproduced above are clear, unambiguous and specific on the commencement of actions against Local Government Council. Thus thiscourt isnot inclined to import into the clear and unambiguous provisions, what was not included, by extending the provisions to the Applicant.It is my finding that the specific reference to the council under Section 152 precludes any reference to the 3rd Defendant/Applicant.
36. I agree with learned counsel for the Respondent that the Applicant and the Local Government Council as envisaged in that law are distinct bodies with different roles and functions as specified underEdo State Local Government Law, 2000 (as amended). A study of Section 2(1) and Section 5 of Edo State Local Government Law, reveals that Local Government Councils are bestowed with a corporate personality, and other sections of the law also made provisions for the duties, powers composition etc. of the Councils. In contrast, the Applicantwas created underSection 60 of Edo State Local Government Law, 2000 (as amended)and the members areto be appointed by the Governor of the Statesubject to the confirmation of the House of Assembly, see Section 60 (1) of the Law. Thepowers, duties and composition of the Commission arealso clearly spelt out in that law, which relates strictly to employment, promotions and discipline of staff in all local governments in the State.
37. In this wise, if it was the intention of the legislation that theApplicant will be entitled to pre-action notice, this would have been specified in the law. This position is further reinforced by the provisions of Section 174 (1) of Edo State Local Government Law, 2000 (as amended), which distinctly defines the “Council” as a “Local Government Council constituted for a Local Government Under this law.” and “Local Government Service Commission” to mean “ a Local Government Service Commission created by this law.” I find therefore that the provisions of Section 152 of the Edo State Local Government Law, 2000, in the light of this clear distinction cannot be drawn-out to cover the Applicant in this suit.
38. I have readAyelabegan v Local Government Service Commission, Kwara State & Anor (Supra) cited by the Applicant’s counsel, and his submissions that Section 152 of the Edo State Local Government Law, is applicable to the Applicant. I howevercannot find any correlation between this case and the Ayelabegan case in that both cases are not on all fours with each other. I will go on to expatiate on this further, in the Ayelabegan case, what my lords of the Court of Appeal decided on was whether it was the three month limitation period provided under the Public Officers Protection Law of Kwara State or the six month limitation period under Local Government Law of Kwara State, 1994, that is applicable to limitation of actions against the 1st respondent in that case. Furthermore, Section 178 of the Local Government Law of Kwara State, 1994 which the court of Appealexamined and held as applicable in that case provides as follows:
“when any suit is commenced against a Local Government for any act done in pursuance or execution or intended execution of any law or of any public duty or authority or in respect of any alleged respect or default in the execution of any such law, duty or authority such suit shall not lie or be instituted unless it is commenced within six months next after the act neglect or default complained of.”
A scrutiny of the above reveals that the provision specifically mentioned “Local Government” while Sections 151 and 152 of Edo State Local Government Law, 2000 (as amended) mentioned “Local Government Council”. Thus the case cited by the applicant is clearly distinguishable from the present suit
39. Further on this, what is in issuein the present case is whether the provisions of Section 152 of the Edo State Local Government Law, 2000 (as amended)which provides for the issuance ofpre-action notice is applicable to the Applicant and has nothing to do with the limitation of action.
40. Also,Section153 of the Edo State Local Government Law, 2000 (as amended) is of relevance in this regard and it provides as follows:
“The notice referred in section 152 of this law and any summons, notice or any other documents required or authorized to be served on the Local Government Council in connection with any suit by or against such Local Government Council shall be served by delivering same to, or by sending it by registered post addressed to the Secretary to the Local Government Council at the principal office of the Local Government Council ...”
Thus, pre-action notices are to be delivered to or sent by registered post and addressed to the Secretary to the Local Government Council, in other to be competent.
41. It is awell-knownposition of law that a court lacks the power to import into a statute that which is not specifically provided for in the statute. On this, see the holding of
40. Adekeye JCA in Ayelabegan v. Local Government Service Commission of Kwara State (supra), where his lordship heldas follows:
“A court of law is without power to import into the meaning of a word, clause or section of a statute that which it did not say. Indeed, it is corollary to the general rule of literal construction of that nothing is added to or taken from a statute unless there are adequate grounds to justify the inference that the legislature intended something which it omitted to express… However where the literal interpretation of the provision of a statute will result in some ambiguity or injustice the court may seek external aid to resolve the ambiguity or to avoid doing injustice in the matter. The court will adopt an interpretation which will not defeat the intention of the law-makers.
41. Also, seeKekere-Ekun, JSC in Amobi v Nzegwu&Ors. (2013) LPELR-21863(SC) Pp. 35-36 where his lordship held:
“The law is settled that in construing the provisions of a statute, where the words are clear and unambiguous they must be given their natural and ordinary meaning, except where this would lead to absurdity or injustice.”
42. I am of the firm view that the literal interpretation of Section 151 and 152 of Edo State Local Government Law, 2000 (as amended) does not create any ambiguity or absurdity,that will occasion injustice iflimited to the Local Government Council as contained in the Law.
43. Having held that Section 152 of the Edo State Local Government Law, 2000 as amended is not applicable to the Applicant, I find it unnecessary to delve into the consideration of whether Exhibits AB-1 and AB-2 attached to the claimant’s counter-affidavit qualifies as a pre action notice in this suit.
44. In conclusionhaving found that Section 152 of Edo State Local Government Law, 2000, is not applicable to the 3rd defendant/applicant, I also find that this suit is competent as presently constituted and the court is seized with the requisite jurisdiction to entertain same. I so hold.
45. Consequently, the3rdDefendant/Applicant’spreliminary objection fails and is hereby dismissed as it is untenable and unmeritorious.
I make no order as to cost.
Ruling is accordingly entered.
Hon. Justice A.A. Adewemimo