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CIL RISK & ASSET MANAGEMENT LIMITED v. EKITI STATE GOVERNMENT & ORS

(2020) LPELR-49565(SC)

In The Supreme Court of Nigeria

On Friday, the 13th day of March, 2020

SC.990/2018


Before Their Lordships

OLABODE RHODES-VIVOUR Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

MARY UKAEGO PETER-ODILI Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

CHIMA CENTUS NWEZE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

AMINA ADAMU AUGIE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

EJEMBI EKO Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria


Between

CIL RISK & ASSET MANAGEMENT LIMITED - Appellant(s)

AND

1. EKITI STATE GOVERNMENT
2. MINISTRY OF LANDS, HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, EKITI STATE
3. ATTORNEY GENERAL OF EKITI STATE
4. AFE BABALOLA UNIVERSITY - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on civil procedure.

FACTS:
This is an appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Ado-Ekiti Division, which affirmed the decision of the High Court of Ekiti State, Ado Ekiti.

Sometime in the year 2007, the Appellant was granted title to a parcel of land, for the purpose of building a five star hotel. A Certificate of Occupancy was issued to the appellant in the year 2008.???Subsequently, the Certificate was withdrawn and another one was issued in its place in the year 2011, but registered in the year 2012. Both Certificates contained terms and conditions including a term requiring the appellant to pay annual rent in the sum of N691,450,00 (Six Hundred and Ninety One Thousand, Four Hundred and Fifty Naira) in relation to the Certificate of 2008 and the sum of N6,668,000.00 for the Certificate of 2011 also inclusive in the terms of the grant was that the appellant must erect and complete the building on the land in line with Government approved building plans within 2 years of the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy. The appellant failed to comply with the terms of the grant particularly as it related to the payment of ground rent and development of the land within 2 years of the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy, consequent upon which the 1st Respondent by notice of revocation, revoked the Appellant's right of occupancy and subsequently awarded the said parcel of land to the 4th Respondent.

???In October 2016, the Notice of Revocation was published in a newspaper. Aggrieved that the notice of revocation was served or made known to it through the dailies, the appellant commenced an action at the High Court, challenging the said revocation.

The 1st - 3rd Respondents filed a preliminary objection challenging the competence of the action on the grounds inter alia, that the action is statute barred, and that the suit discloses no reasonable cause of action. The 4th respondent also filed a preliminary objection along the same terms. The appellant filed a counter-affidavit denying receipt and or service of any notice of revocation in December 2014.

The trial Judge, C.I. Akintayo, J., heard arguments on both objections and upheld the respondents' objection that the action is statute barred, after finding as a fact that the appellant was served with the notice of revocation in December 2014. Dissatisfied with the ruling of the Court, the appellant appealed against same to the Court of Appeal, albeit unsuccessfully. Appellant appealed further to the Supreme Court.

ISSUES:
The Supreme Court identified the following issues for determination:
"1. Whether by virtue of Section 2(a) of the Public Officers Protection Act the suit of the Appellant at the trial Court was statute barred.
2. Whether the Appellant disclosed, in the Statement of Claim, any reasonable cause of action?"

DECISION/HELD:
In conclusion, the Supreme Court allowed the appeal and restored the suit to the cause list of the trial Court, to be heard and determined by a Judge of the Court other than the trial judge.


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