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Alexander Madiebo & Ors v. Godwin Nwachukwu Nwankwo (2001)


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CASE SUMMARY OF:
Alexander Madiebo & Ors v. Godwin Nwachukwu Nwankwo (2001)
by PaulPipAr

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PARTIES
APPELLANT
1. Alexander Madiebo
2. B.C. Madiebo
3. George Madiebo
4. D.O. Madiebo
5. Commissioner Of Police Lagos State

v.

RESPONDENTS
1. Godwin Nwachukwu Nwankwo

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CITATION
(2001) LPELR-6965(CA);
(2002) 1 NWLR (Pt 748)283

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COURT
Court of Appeal of Nigeria

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LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Suleiman Galadima, J.C.A

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LAWYERS WHO ADVOCATED
FOR THE APPELLANT
- Samuel N. Nweke

FOR THE RESPONDENT
- Femi Falana

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FACT
The respondent, an insurance executive was based in Lagos. The 1st - 4th appellants, are his cousins.
Following allegations made to the police, concerning the conduct of the respondent, he was arrested by the police on 26/1/97, in his office in Lagos, and detained at the Barracks Police Station, Surulere, Lagos.
He was denied bail on the ground, that he committed an undisclosed offence at Awka, in Anambra State. However, he was later informed, that his arrest was as a result of complaint, brought by the appellant over land matter.
On his return to Lagos, the respondent brought ex-parte application and obtained the order of the lower court for leave, to apply for an order enforcing his fundamental rights. Following this, he now brought a motion on notice for a declaration, that his arrest and detention was illegal and unconstitutional and an infringement of his right to personal dignity and personal liberty, as guaranteed by the Constitution.
The 1st - 4th appellants, filed a motion seeking to dismiss the cases on the ground that the dispute arose out of land matter in Awka, Anambra State, and as such the Lagos State High Court lacked jurisdiction. In his considered ruling, the learned trial Judge held that, the matter in dispute had nothing to do with the declaration of ownership, to land in Awka, Anambra State, outside the jurisdiction of this court.
He however, held that the Court had jurisdiction to entertain the cases, as it concerned the respondent's arrest and first detention which took place within the jurisdiction of the court.
Dissatisfied with this decision, the appellants appealed to this court.

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ISSUE
1. Whether the learned trial judge had jurisdiction to entertain the applicant's (respondent's) application for the enforcement or securing enforcement of the alleged breach of his fundamental rights as formulated by the respondent?

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HOLDING & RATIO DECIDENDI

1. The Court of Appeal held that the High Court has jurisdiction to hear the matter.
RATIO:
i. In a fundamental rights application, the jurisdiction of the High Court can be best determined on the basis of the reliefs sought by the applicant. I have carefully, set out above the reliefs sought by the respondent. I have said it for the umpteenth times, that the action of the respondent is not in respect of declaration of ownership or title to land in dispute in Awka, Anambra State. The reliefs really depict the respondent's complaint bordering on alleged infringement of his fundamental rights. He is challenging the constitutionality of his arrest and detention here, in Lagos and Awka.
ii. The fact that there was a land dispute in Awka, Anambra State, this alone cannot deprive the Lagos State High Court of the jurisdiction, to entertain an action for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of the respondent, in Lagos State, where the alleged infraction took place.

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REFERENCED

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SOME PROVISIONS

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NOTABLE DICTA
Generally, it is a fundamental principle of law that it is the claim of the plaintiff, which determines the jurisdiction of a court. - Suleiman Galadima, J.C.A. Alexander Madiebo & Ors v. Godwin Nwachukwu Nwankwo (2001)

In a fundamental rights application, the jurisdiction of the High Court can be best determined on the basis of the reliefs sought by the applicant. - Suleiman Galadima, J.C.A. Alexander Madiebo & Ors v. Godwin Nwachukwu Nwankwo (2001)

It is trite law, that where a party to a suit claims to have unlawfully been arrested and detained by another, the burden of proving the legality or constitutionality of the arrest and detention is on the party, who effected the arrest. - Suleiman Galadima, J.C.A. Alexander Madiebo & Ors v. Godwin Nwachukwu Nwankwo (2001)

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