IN THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT OF NIGERIA
IN THE OWERRI JUDICIAL DIVISION
HOLDEN AT OWERRI
BEFORE HIS LORDSHIP HONOURABLE JUSTICE O. Y. ANUWE
Dated: 3rd October 2017
SUIT NO: NICN/OW/75/2016
Cecilia Nnenna Anumudu - Claimant
Imo State Universal Basic Education Board - Defendant
S. A. Iheakanwa for the Claimant
I. I. Amadi Acting Director, Estate and Trust, Imo State Ministry of Justice, for the Defendant
This is a suit commenced by the Claimant on 30/11/2016 using the originating summons process. The questions the Claimant sought to be determined in the suit are as follows:
a. Whether upon the construction of the first letter of appointment/posting of Claimant dated 01/09/1981 vis-a-vis the interpretation of Section 02808 (i) & (iii) and Section 02809 of the Imo State of Nigeria Public Service Rules (Revised to 1st January, 2001), the Defendant can legally, lawfully, retire or cause the Claimant to retire on the 1st day of March 2016 on the strength of an identity card issued by the Defendant to the Claimant.
b. Whether upon the construction of the first letter of appointment/posting of Claimant dated 01/09/1981 vis-a-vis the interpretation of Section 02808 (i) & (iii) and Section 02809 of the Imo State of Nigeria Public Service Rules (Revised to 1st January 2001), the Defendant can legally and lawfully stop or withhold or refuse to pay to the Claimant, her salaries and other entitlements so long as the Claimant attended to and performed her duties while her appointment by the Defendant subsists.
Upon the determination of the above questions, the Claimant sought the following reliefs:
1. A Declaration that the Defendant cannot legally and lawfully compulsorily retire or cause the Claimant to retire on 1st day of March 2016 instead of 1st day of September 2016.
2. A Declaration, that any purported retirement of the Claimant by the Defendant with effect from any day before the 1st day of September 2016 while the appointment of the Claimant by the Defendant was subsisting, is illegal, unlawful, invalid, null and void.
3. A Declaration that the Defendant cannot legally and lawfully, stop, withhold or refuse to pay the Claimant her salaries and other entitlements so long as the Claimant attended to and performed her duties while her appointment subsisted.
4. A Declaration that the refusal of the Defendant to pay the Claimant her salaries and entitlements for the months of March, April, May, June, July and August 2016 when Claimant attended to her work and performed her duties while her appointment subsisted, is illegal and unlawful.
5. An Order of Court mandating the Defendant to forthwith, pay the Claimant her monthly salaries and entitlements of Eighty Nine Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty Naira, Seventy Seven Kobo (
N89, 750.77) for the months of March, April, May, June, July and August totaling the sum of Five Hundred and Thirty Eight Thousand Five Hundred and Four Naira, Sixty Two Kobo ( N538,504.62).
6. An Order of Court mandating the Defendant to pay to the Claimant as general damages, accumulated 10% interest per month of Claimants total six months’ salary sum of Five Hundred and Thirty Eight Thousand Five Hundred and Four Naira, Sixty Two Kobo (
N538,504.62) which 10% amounts to N53,850.40 starting from the 1st day of September 2016 till the day or date the Defendant shall
liquidate, or pay to the Claimant her withheld six months’ salary.
7. An Order of Court, mandating the Defendant to pay to the Claimant as special damages the sum of Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira legal fee being expenses incurred by the Claimant as a result of the Defendant's refusal to pay Claimant's Salaries.
The Claimant filed an affidavit of 27 paragraphs and a written Address in support of the Originating Summons. The Defendant, while filing its counter affidavit to the Originating Summons also filed a Notice of Preliminary Objection. Both the substantive suit and the preliminary objection were consolidated and heard together. The judgment today is to include the ruling on the Defendant’s preliminary objection. It is observed that the preliminary objection of the Defendants touches on the jurisdiction of this court to entertain or determine the Claimants’ suit. It is the law that once the issue of a court’s jurisdiction is raised, it must be determined first before any other step is taken in the matter. The Supreme Court, in ISAAC OBIUWEUBI vs. CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA (2011) 7 NWLR (Pt.1247) 465 at 494; A.P.G.A. vs. ANYANWU (2014) All FWLR (Pt.735) 243 at 256-257. I will therefore deal with the preliminary objection of the Defendant before considering the Claimant’s suit.
The preliminary objection, brought pursuant to Order 17, Rule 1 (1) of the 2017 Rules of this court and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court prays for an order dismissing this suit for want of jurisdiction. The grounds of the objection are that:
1. The suit is statute barred based on Section 2(a) of the Public Officers Protection Act.
2. The suit is incompetent having been brought by a wrong procedure
The preliminary objection is supported by a 7 paragraphs affidavit deposed by Christopher Duru, a litigation officer of the Defendant. It is averred that the action of the Defendant upon which the Claimant brought this suit happened between 11 years ago and in March 2016. The Claimant however, brought this suit on the 30th November 2016 more than 8 months after the action of the Defendant being complained of. The suit was brought long after the prescribed period of time allowed by Law for bringing such action against the Defendant who is a statutory body protected by the Public Officers Protection Act. It is further deposed that that this suit is a hostile proceeding and the facts in issue are highly contentious. The suit cannot be brought by way of an originating summons as oral evidence is needed for the court to effectively determine the suit on the merits.
In his written address in support of the NPO, learned counsel to the defendant formulated two issues for determination as follows:
1. Whether the suit is statute barred and therefore, incompetent having regard to Section 2 (a) of the Public Officers Protection Act, Cap 4, Vol 14, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
2. Whether this suit ought not to have been commenced by complaint being of a hostile nature.
In arguing issue one, counsel stated that this suit as presently constituted is statute barred and, therefore, incompetent on the ground that it was commenced after the prescribed period of three months allowed by Section 2 (a) of the Public Officers Protection Act (POPA) Cap 4, Vol. 14, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. Counsel further argued that a cause of action is said to be statute barred when the period laid down by the limitation law or Act for which proceedings relating to it can be instituted has been extinguished. See ELABANJO vs. DAWODU (2006) All FWLR (Pt. 328) 604 at 653, and EGBE vs. ADEFARASIN (NO.2) (1987) 1 NWLR (Pt. 47) 1.
Again, counsel referred to Section 18 (1) of the Interpretation Act, 2004 that defines a public officer as a member of the Public Service of the Federation or of a State within the meaning of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, and the case of IBRAHIM vs. JSC (1998) 14 NWLR (Pt. 584) 1, where the Supreme Court held that Public Officers include an artificial person, public officer, public bodies or body of persons, corporate or incorporate, statutory bodies or persons. See also ABUBAKAR vs. GOVERNOR OF GOMBE STATE (2002) 17 NWLR (Pt. 797) 533, and NWAOGWUGWU vs. THE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA (2007) All FWLR (Pt. 387) 1327-1354.
It is counsel’s contention that from the decision in the foregoing cases, the Defendant in this suit falls under the ambit of the Public Officers Protection Act being a statutory body established by law, and that it is trite law that in order to determine if a party's action is statute barred the court is only enjoined to look at the plaintiff's claim. Counsel referred to the cases AMEDE vs. UBA (2009) All FWLR (Pt. 469) 479 at 506-7, OKENWA vs. MILITARY GOVERNOR OF IMO STATE (1997) 6 NWLR (Pt. 507) 154 at 167 and GULF OIL LTD vs. OLUBA (2003) FWLR (Pt. 145) 712 at 721, and submitted that the period of limitation in a case is determined by looking at the writ of summons and the statement of claim which alleges when the wrong suffered by the plaintiff was committed and placing it side by side with the date on which the writ was issued. Counsel also relied on DAWODU vs. AJOSE (2011) All FWLR (Pt. 580) 1334 at 1345, where it was held that a statute of limitation can be raised in limine without any evidence in support.
In addition, counsel argued that the court, in determining the period of limitation has to look at the time the cause of action arose and compare it with when the writ of summons was filed, which can be done without taking oral evidence from a witness, and if the time of the writ is beyond the period allowed by the limitation law, then the action is statute barred. Counsel drew the court’s attention to the case of IKURIE vs. EDJERODE (2001) 18 NWLR (Pt. 745) 446 where it was affirmed that it is settled law that it is the plaintiff's claim that determines the question of the court's jurisdiction.
Furthermore, counsel submitted that a cause of action is the factual situation that gives the claimant a right of action, it accrues on the particular date which gave rise to the incident in question, and time begins to run from the moment which culminates into the date on which the cause of action accrue. See ACCORD PARTY vs. GOVERNOR OF KWARA STATE (2011) All FWLR (Pt. 555) 220 at 277, and CROSS RIVER UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY vs. OBETEN (2012) All FWLR (Pt. 641) 1567 at 1583.
Counsel argued that from paragraph 7 of the statement of claim and paragraph 9 of the affidavit in support of the originating summons filed on the 30/11/2016, the grouse of the claimant is her retirement from service on March, 2016 based on the date of first appointment as appears on the identity card issued to her some 11 years ago by the defendant, which she accepted without any complaint. Counsel urged the court to hold that from the founding affidavit the act of the Defendant which resulted in the Claimant's retirement in March, 2016 took place 11 years ago. It is counsel’s submission that where a law provides for the bringing of an action in respect of a cause of action accruing to a plaintiff within a prescribed period, proceedings shall not be brought after the time prescribed by the law; any action brought in respect of the cause of action outside the prescribed period does not give rise to a cause of action. See ADIGUN vs. AYIINDE & ORS (1993) 8 NWLR (Pt. 313) 516 at 535.
Again, counsel submitted that the Claimant in the present case having become aware of the mistake in her identity card issued by the Defendant 11 years ago, but chose to do nothing has slept on her right to bring this suit within the period prescribed by Section 2 (a) of the POPA. It is counsel’s further submission that the cause of action in this case accrued the time the Claimant accepted the identity card with the first appointment date of 01/03/1981, the inaction for a period of 11 years cumulated in the Claimant’s retirement on 01/03/2016. It is the contention of counsel that this action is statute barred and cannot be maintainable in law, because as a civil servant the claimant was supposed to have known that her retirement period will either be by her length of service, 35 years from the date of her first appointment or 60 years of age whichever came first.
Furthermore, counsel considered another track and argued that in the event that the cause of action in this suit accrued on the date the Claimant was allegedly given the news of her impeding retirement in March, 2016, the suit is still statute barred having been filed 8 months after the Claimant was aware of her retirement date. Consequently, counsel relied on IKURIE vs. EDJERODE (supra) and ELABANJO vs. DAWODU (supra), and argued that the present suit is statute barred having not be brought within 3 months of the accrual of the cause of action in line with the Public Officers’ Protection Act, with the effect that the Claimant no longer has a right to judicial relief and the court lacks the jurisdiction to hear this suit.
Also, counsel submitted that it is settled law that when an action is statute barred; no amount of resort to its merit can keep it in existence, the proper order the court has to make is to dismiss it. Counsel referred to the cases of EGBE vs. ADEFARASIN (NO.2) (1981) 1 NWLR (Pt. 41)1 and OWNERS OF THE MV “ARABELLA” vs. NAIC (2008) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1091) 182 at 219.
In view of the foregoing, counsel urged the court to hold that this suit is statute barred; the court lacks the jurisdiction to hear and determine same; and resolve issue one in favour of the Defendant.
With respect to issue two, counsel submitted that the present suit is contentious and ought to have been brought by way of a compliant and not by an originating summons, because an originating summons procedure is adopted where the principal question in issues is, or likely to be, the construction of a written law or any instrument made under any written law, or any deed, will, contract or other document or any substantial dispute of facts relevant to the determination of issues in controversy. See GLOBAL SOAP & DETERGENT IND. LTD vs. NAFDAC (2011) All FWLR (Pt. 599) 1025 at 1054, EJURA vs. IDRIS (2006) All FWLR (Pt. 318) 646 at 663.
In the same vein, counsel submitted that by the evidence deposed to in the affidavit supporting the originating summons, oral evidence of both parties is needed for the court to conclusively determine this case on the merits by adjudging whether the Claimant’s retirement on 01/03/2016 was legal, and if her identification card bore 01/03/1981 as her date of first appointment. It is counsel’s view that the issues in this case cannot be effectively determined by way of originating summons because facts are in dispute. See OSSAI vs. WAKWAH (2006) All FWLR (Pt. 303) 239 at 262, and AKINYANJU vs. UNIVERSITY OF ILORIN (2011) All FWLR (Pt. 569) 1080 at 1108.
In conclusion, Counsel urged the court to dismiss this suit having been commenced with a wrong procedure and being statute barred.
The Claimant, in opposing the NPO, filed a counter affidavit of 7 paragraphs which was deposed to personally by the Claimant. She asserted that the action of the Defendant which is the cause of her action did not occur between 11 years ago or in March 2016 but occurred on 1st September, 2016. She attended to her duties unchallenged by the Defendant from the 1st day of her appointment till 1/9/2016. Her suit against the Defendant is not for the identity card issued to her but for affirming her retirement was effective from 1/3/2016 instead of 1/9/2016. The suit was filed within the three months statutory period as prescribed by law. She also averred that oral evidence is not needed for the determination of this suit as the question in issue is the interpretation of a written law.
The Claimant’s counsel in his written address in support of the counter affidavit, identified one issue for determination, as follows:
Whether this suit is statute barred considering the Claimant's claim and the founding affidavit in support of the said claim or writ.
In arguing this sole issue, Learned Counsel for the Claimant was of the view that in order to determine if a suit is statute barred, the court is enjoined to look at the plaintiff's writ or originating summons, and the statement of claim or as in the present case, the founding affidavit in support of the originating summons which alleges when the wrong suffered by the plaintiff was committed and placing it side by side with the date on which the writ was issued. Counsel relied also on the authority of AMEDE vs. UBA (supra) for this opinion. Also, counsel submitted that a perusal of the Claimant’s originating summons and its supporting affidavit, show that the issue raised by the Claimant is the validity of the purported retirement from service on 1/3/2016 instead of 1/9/2016 based on the date on the said erroneous identity card instead of the date in the Claimant's letter of 1st appointment. Again, counsel argued that as shown in the affidavit in support of the originating summons, the Defendant did not notify the Claimant of the purported retirement, and that the Defendant promised to look into the purported retirement of the Claimant on 1/3/2016 with the intention of reversing same if found that the date of Claimant's 1st appointment is 1/9/81.
Therefore, counsel’s submission is that if the Defendant was looking into the complaint of the Claimant, allowed her to continue working as usual; the Claimant had no reason or cause of action to sue the Defendant based on speculation, in line with the decision in ADEKOYA vs. FHA (2008) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1099) 539 that a cause of action cannot be said to accrue, unless there is a factual situation that gives a right of action. Counsel contended that the Claimant’s cause of action in this case arose on 1/9/2016 when the Defendant confirmed the purported retirement of the Claimant as effective from 1/3/2016 instead of 1/9/2016; despite Defendant’s finding and admittance that the correct date of Claimant’s first appointment was 1/9/81.
On the defence counsel’s submission that an originating summons is the wrong procedure to commence this suit, counsel argued that the issue in this suit is simply the interpretation of the intendment and meaning of Section 02808 (i) and (ii) and Section 02809 of the Imo State Public Service Rules as it relates to the Claimant’s letter of 1st appointment by the court. In conclusion, counsel submitted that this preliminary objection is misconceived, and the court was urged to the dismiss same and hear the matter on merit.
The Defendant filed a further affidavit of Christopher Duru. It is maintained that the cause of action in this case arose between 11 years ago and the March, 2016 and not 1st September, 2016. The claimant was duly notified of her retirement in March, 2016 and was aware of the copy of retirement notice pasted at the defendant's office which is published every month in addition to her admission in the originating process that she was notified of her retirement by a colleague of hers sometime in March, 2016. The claimant refused to vacate her office when she was asked to do so until a replacement was posted to take her position. The claimant protested her retirement by a letter dated 12th April, 2016 to show she was aware of her retirement as at March, 2016. The act of the defendant being complained of was concluded in March, 2016 when the Claimant’s retirement notice was pasted in the office of the defendant and her salary was stopped. Oral evidence is needed to conclusively determine this suit on the merit as the suit of the claimant is a hostile one.
In her reply on points of law, the Defendant’s counsel, I. I. Amadi (Mrs.) submitted that a cause of action accrues on the particular date which gave rise to the incident in question. Citing the case of CROSS RIVER UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY vs. OBETEN (2012) All FWLR (Pt. 641) 1567 at 1583 and DAWODU vs. AJOSE (2011) All FWLR (Pt. 580) 1334 at 1345, learned state counsel submitted that time began to run for the Claimant the moment she was communicated of her retirement in March 2016 and the stoppage of her salary from thenceforth. According to counsel, the action of the Defendant in retiring the Claimant in May 2016 instead of September 2016 had put her at variance with her employer. See GOVERNOR OF EKITI STATE vs. AWOLOLA (2006) All FWLR (Pt. 312) 2066 at 2086-2087 Paras H-A.
Citing the case of BASSEY vs. MINISTER OF DEFENCE (2006) All FWLR (Pt. 343) 1799at 1807 Paras C-E, counsel submitted that Originating Summons is not a proper way to commence an action in which arguments on facts may arise. Counsel pointed out that the affidavit evidence of the Claimant reveal hostile and contentious facts which cannot be resolved without oral evidence. See OLOMADA vs. MUSTAPHA (2011) All FWLR (Pt. 559) 1080 at 1137-1138 Paras H-A; and GLOBAL SOAP & DETERGENT LTD vs. NAFDAC (2011) All FWLR (Pt. 599) 1025 at 1054 PARAS B-F. Counsel urged the court to dismiss the action for being incompetent.
The 1st ground of the Defendant’s preliminary objection is that the Claimant’s suit is statute barred by the effect of Section 2 (a) of the Public Officers’ Protection Act. Let me first consider this ground of the objection. The provision of Section 2 (a) of the Public Officers’ Protection Act limits time for instituting action in court against public officers. It provides that no action can be commenced against a public officer in respect of any act done in pursuance or execution or intended execution of any Act or Law or of any public duty or authority, or in respect of any alleged neglect or default in the execution of any such Act, Law, duty or authority unless the action is commenced within 3 months after the act, or neglect or default complained of. Where the suit is not commenced within the prescribed period, the Claimant’s right of action in respect of that cause will be statute barred and the court will no longer have jurisdiction to entertain the suit. See IBRAHIM vs. J.S.C, KADUNA STATE (1998) 12 SC 20; NNAMDI AZIKIWE UNIVERSITY, AWKA vs. NWEKE (2008) All FWLR (Pt. 428) 343. It is not in dispute that the Defendant is a public officer and the complaint against the Defendant in this suit is in respect of the Defendant’s alleged default in the execution of the provisions of the Public Service Rules of Imo State and the Defendant’s public duty to the Claimant. The parties have not also disputed the fact that the suit was filed on 30/11/2016. The only issue in contention is whether or not the Claimant filed this suit against the Defendant within 3 months after the cause of action arose. While the Defendant maintained that the Claimant’s cause of action accrued in March 2016 when she was retired from service, the Claimant stated that her cause of action arose on 1/9/2016 when she actually retired from service.
The law is settled that in determining whether a suit is statute barred, the processes which should be examined are the Writ and the statement of claim. See J.S.F. INVESTMENT LTD. vs. BRAWAL LINE LTD. (2011) All FWLR (Pt. 578) 876 at 902; AMEDE vs. UBA (2009) All FWLR (Pt. 469) 479 at 506/507. In this case, they are the originating summons and the affidavit in support. It is from these processes the Claimant’s cause of action and the date the cause of action arose will be seen. From the questions the Claimant sought to be determined in the originating summons and the reliefs she sought in this suit, her case is simply to determine whether she ought to be retired on 1st March 2016 based on the wrong date of first appointment stated in her identity card instead of 1st September 2016. Thus, her cause of action in this suit is with regard to her retirement from service by the Defendant. The question to ask is: When did this cause of action of the Claimant arise? In the affidavit in support of the Originating Summons, the Claimant deposed to these facts:
7. That after many years of service, about 11 years ago, the defendant maliciously issued to me an identity card bearing a wrong date of 01/03/1981 as my first appointment date. Similar identity card bearing wrong dates of first appointment were also issued to some other teachers.
8. That as a public servant, I know that I should be due for compulsory retirement from service on 01/09/2016. This fact is also well known to the defendant.
9. That sometime in March 2016, I was unofficially informed by one of my colleagues and I did not believe her that I was to retire from service in the said month of March. At the time of this friendly information, no pension form has been given to me and I did not fill any.
10. That I promptly protested in writing followed by several visits to the headquarters of the Imo State Universal Basic Education Board at Port-Harcourt Road Owerri. Copy of my letter dated 12/04/2016 to the Chairman Imo State Universal Basic Education Board is hereby exhibited and marked as Exhibit CNA3.
The said Exhibit CNA3 is dated 12th April 2016. For a proper understanding of the time the Claimant was retired from service and when she became aware of her retirement, it is necessary to examine the content of the letter. In the letter which is titled “UNDUE AND UNJUSTIFIED RETIREMENT FOR MARCH 2016 INSTEAD OF SEPTEMBER 2016”, the Claimant wrote that she heard she was to retire in March 2016 instead of September 2016 due to the wrong first appointment date of 01/03/1981 contained in her staff identity card. Her rightful date of first appointment was 01/09/1981 as contained in her letter of first appointment or first posting. She then sought that the anomaly in her retirement be corrected to the rightful date of September 2016. It is clear from the content of the letter and the deposition in paragraph 9 of the affidavit in support of the originating summons that the Claimant was retired from service by the Defendant in March 2016 based on the date of her first appointment indicated in the identity card issued to her by the Defendant and she was aware of her retirement in the said month. The Claimant, as at the time she wrote Exhibit CNA3, was also aware that her retirement in March 2016 was on the basis of the date of first appointment stated in the identity card. This said identity card was issued to her 11 years before her retirement in March 2016 containing the fact that she was appointed on 1/3/1981 but, as she admitted in Exhibit CNA3, she never complained or protested until the date was used to retire her in March 2016. The Claimant carried that identity card for 11 years but not once did she raise any issue about the correctness of the date of her first appointment stated on it.
The Claimant has contended that her cause of action arose on 1/9/2016 being the date she officially or compulsorily retired from service. In her contention, the Claimant relied on a document she called her letter of first appointment. This document is Exhibit CNA1 of the affidavit in support of the originating summons. It is dated 24/9/1981. There is nothing in that letter to indicate it was the Claimant’s letter of first appointment. The letter is headed “posting of Teachers 1981/1982” and it indicated the Claimant’s former school as “EX T.T.C” and present school as “Amanom Central School”. The effective date of the posting was stated as 1/9/1981. This is the date the Claimant contends is her first appointment date. But it is clear from the posting letter that the date is the effective date of posting and that the Claimant was being posted from one school to another. It appears to me that the Claimant had been in service before the posting in Exhibit CNA1 was made. I am unable to find in the documents anytime to suggest that it was the Claimant’s first appointment letter or anything to support the Claimant’s argument that her retirement date ought to be 1/9/2016. Therefore, I do not find merit in the Claimant’s view that her cause of action arose on 1/9/2016
It is the law that a cause of action is said to arise at the date or time when a breach or any act that will warrant the person who is adversely affected by the act to take action in court. See BANK OF THE NORTH vs. GANA (2006) ALL FWLR (Pt. 296) 862. Without any doubt, the Claimant’s cause of action in this suit commenced when she became aware that she had been retired from service on the basis of the date of first appointment stated in her identity card. This was in March 2016. The time the Claimant had under the law to institute this action against the Defendant started running from March 2016. Between the time the Claimant’s cause of action arose and the time she filed this suit on 30/11/2016 was period of 8 months. It is clear from the foregoing that this suit was filed more than 3 months from the date the cause of action arose. The Claimant did not commence this suit against the Defendant within the statutorily prescribed period. It must be stated that a claimant who desires to exercise his right to judicial process must approach the court timeously. Otherwise, where there is a statute limiting the time of action in his cause, he will lose his right to judicial relief and his right of action will be extinguished if he does not commence the action within the time limited by statute. After the date on which limitations statutes provide that legal proceedings cannot be taken, any person having a right of action can no longer institute the action as the action is statute barred and it affects the competence or jurisdiction of the court to continue to entertain the matter. See IBRAHIM vs. J.S.C, KADUNA STATE (supra); ELABANJO vs. DAWODU (2006) All FWLR (Pt. 328) 604.
Having considered the submissions of counsels on the Notice of Preliminary Objection and all other facts relevant to the determination of the Preliminary Objection, I find that the Claimant’s suit is statute barred. The facts are clear that this suit was filed more than 3 months from the date the cause of action arose. The action is no longer maintainable and this court lacks jurisdiction to entertain it. In the circumstance, the appropriate order to make is to dismiss the suit. Accordingly, the suit is hereby dismissed.
No order as to cost.
Ruling is entered accordingly.
Hon. Justice O. Y. Anuwe