CASE SUMMARY OF:
Ali Maina Mobar v. Ibrahim Ali (2001) - SC
- False imprisonment;
- Malicious Prosecution;
Ali Maina Mobar
2002) 1 NWLR (Pt 747)95;
Court of Appeal - Jos Division
LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
I. A. MANGAJI, J.C.A.
LAWYERS WHO ADVOCATED
* FOR THE APPELLANT
- A. A. Odoma;
* FOR THE RESPONDENT
- A. A. ldris;
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Bank: Zenith Bank.
Name: Branham Paul Chima.
Account No.: 2178756839.
FACT (as relating to the issues)
The defendant had a disagreement with the appellant over an alleged debt. The defendant said the plaintiff owned him the sum N22,000.00. As a result, the defendant filed an action against the plaintiff at the Upper Area Court, Maiduguri claiming the said sum. At that Court, and supposedly applying Islamic law of evidence, the Upper Area Court gave the plaintiff the Holy Quran to subscribe to in denial of the debt. Plaintiff accordingly swore on the Holy Quran and the suit was dismissed. The defendant's case was that after the decision of the Upper Area Court and whenever by chance he met the plaintiff, the latter would abuse him in Kanuri language to the hearing of the public likening him to a thief and "wizard." Defendant said whenever the plaintiff made those invectives his blood pressure would rise and cause him considerable worry. Not able to bear it, the defendant reported the plaintiff at the Bulaburin Police Station soliciting for the intervention of the Police. In his words, "I told the Police I was after peace. I wanted the Police to settle me and the plaintiff." With the intervention of the Police and defendant's friends, the plaintiff and the defendant signed a truce to maintain cordial relationship among them.
The plaintiff, after leaving the Police Station, decided to take a writ of summons against the defendant claiming the following reliefs: The sum of N500,000.00 general damages done to the plaintiff's character, person and business. (c) An order restraining the defendant from further accusing or embarrassing the plaintiff in anyway or form. An order directing the defendant to tender a public apology to the plaintiff through the media house. (d) Any order or further orders."
At the court below, parties filed and exchanged pleadings after same had been ordered. They equally led evidence. On 8/6/98 therefore judgment in the suit was adjourned to 12th June, 1998. Three days after the date adjourned for judgment, the learned trial Judge delivered his decision effectively dismissing the plaintiff's claim in its entirety.
The learned trial Judge, in his well considered judgment, concluded as follows: "If the Police decided to invite the plaintiff to the Police Station that was their own right to do so. For the Police are carrying out their duties as conferred on them by the law. So even if the plaintiff incurred losses on the invited to the Police Station because he could not sell his goods, I can not see how the defendant could be held liable in damages. So, in sum, the 1st claim of the plaintiff fails. The 2nd claim is to restrain the defendant from further accusing or embarrassing the plaintiff in any way or form. I have not found the defendant and have accused or embarrassed the plaintiff. I do not think is in any ground to grant this relief. Same also fails. The 3rd claim is to order the defendant to tender public apology to the plaintiff through the media house. The plaintiff, on the evidence has not established that the defendant showered abuses on him or did anything in any way or from causing embarrassment to the plaintiff. In view of the future of the 1st and 2nd claims, this claim also fails. The last claim for any order or further orders has no basis on the facts and the evidence before this court same also cannot be granted. All in all the plaintiff's claims be and are hereby dismissed for there is no evidence proving same."
It is against the above decision that the plaintiff appealed to this court.
1. Whether the learned trial Judge was right in holding that mere complaint to the Police is not sufficient to warrant a liability on the part of the respondent?
2. Whether the learned trial Judge correctly directed himself as to the main issues before the court having regard to the pleadings and weight of evidence?
HOLDING & RATIO DECIDENDI
[APPEAL: DISMISSED WITH #5000 COST]
1. ISSUE 1 WAS RESOLVED AGAINST THE APPELLANT, AND IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT.
i. It is remarkable to note that the appellant did not allege that the Police acted (during the period he was at the Bulaburin Police Station) without independent discretion and was pushed into doing what was done at the pressure and insistence of the respondent.
2. ISSUE 2 WAS RESOLVED AGAINST THE APPELLANT, AND IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT.
i. The second relief claimed by the appellant was for "an order restraining the defendant from further accusing or, embarrassing the plaintiff in any way or form." Understandably, the relief is predicated on assumed false allegation the respondent lodged to the Police against the appellant. What that false allegation is remains an old woman's tale. The appellant kept it secret to himself. He neither averred in his pleading what it was that was said about him which was false nor gave evidence of facts to show that the respondent made wild and utterly false allegation about his person which caused him embarrassment.
ii. Where does the question of unlawful arrest and detention reared its face? I cannot in all honesty find any paragraph in the appellant's pleading which specifically raised the issue of unlawful arrest and detention. The only paragraph that can be likened to it may be paragraph 6. But even that paragraph concentrated its complaint not on unlawful arrest and detention but false allegation. Clearly appellant had failed to make unlawful arrest and detention a ground in his action.
iii. The learned trial Judge, rightly too in my view found no evidence of any accusations levelled against the appellant by the respondent (see page 24 of the record.) He found no evidence that the respondent "showered abuses" on the appellant as averred in paragraphs 3 and 6 of the statement of claim. Infact, what words were purportedly used by the respondent against the appellant from which one would find them embarrassing were neither averred nor given in evidence.
iv. No order can be made to restrain a person from accusing or embarrassing another when there is no evidence that he ever accused or embarrassed that other person.
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Matters presented for adjudication by parties are by no means disputes that are left to the court to surmise. It is not for the court below, in the circumstances of the above statement of claim to assume that the case presented is that of unlawful arrest and detention. - I. A. MANGAJI, J.C.A. MOBAR v. ALI (2001)
It is ridiculous in the least for learned counsel to submit that because appellant was of the mistaken belief that the evidence he led established his case in his pleading when it was not so, and for that reason there should be a retrial. That cannot be the law. In any event the appellant (as a witness) is not saying in this appeal that he had made a mistake on a most important matter which he wished to put aright by fresh evidence. - I. A. MANGAJI, J.C.A. MOBAR v. ALI (2001)
It must be stressed that when it is manifest (as in this appeal) that the plaintiff's case has failed in toto and that no irregularity of a substantial nature is apparent on the record shown to the court, a retrial order will not be made. - I. A. MANGAJI, J.C.A. MOBAR v. ALI (2001)
The second relief claimed by the appellant was for "an order restraining the defendant from further accusing or, embarrassing the plaintiff in any way or form." Understandably, the relief is predicated on assumed false allegation the respondent lodged to the Police against the appellant. What that false allegation is remains an old woman's tale. The appellant kept it secret to himself. He neither averred in his pleading what it was that was said about him which was false nor gave evidence of facts to show that the respondent made wild and utterly false allegation about his person which caused him embarrassment. - I. A. MANGAJI, J.C.A. MOBAR v. ALI (2001)
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