⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Alhaji Yinusa Daudu v. Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation & Ors (1998) – SC
⦿ LITE HOLDING
An obstruction of a public highway or hindering the free passage of the public along the highway is a public nuisance and a private individual has a right of action if he can prove that he has sustained particular damage other than and beyond the general inconvenience and injury suffered by the public and that the particular damage which he sustained was direct and substantial. – Ogwuegbu, JSC.
⦿AREA OF LAW
Law of Torts
Alhaji Yinusa Daudu
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation & Ors.
(1998) JELR 45666 (SC)
⦿ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
* FOR THE APPELLANT
* FOR THE RESPONDENT
⦿ FACT (as relating to the issues)
This appeal is brought by the plaintiff against the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division delivered on 28th April, 1994. The plaintiff’s claim as endorsed in his amended writ of summons reads: “The plaintiff’s claim jointly and severally against the defendant for the sum of ₦1,250,000.00 (One million, two hundred and fifty thousand naira) being general and special damages suffered by the plaintiff when the defendants dug a trench blocking the access road to the plaintiff’s place of business at Ono-Oko Oponu Street, Idimu, Agege, in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State.”
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation filed its statement of defence and mentioned the 2nd and 3rd defendants as the companies responsible for the digging of the trench which also exposed its oil pipe-lines.
At the close of pleadings, the case proceeded to trial. At the conclusion of the evidence and after the addresses of counsel, the learned trial Judge in a considered judgment dismissed the claim against the 1st and the 4th defendants. He found the 2nd and 3rd defendants jointly and severally liable in the sum of ₦1,175,200.00 as special damages.
Dissatisfied with the decision, the 2nd and 3rd defendants separately appealed to the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division. The plaintiff cross-appealed. The 2nd and 3rd defendants prayed the court below to set aside the judgment of the High Court and enter judgment for each of them. The plaintiff prayed that he be awarded general damages against the 2nd and 3rd defendants or in the alternative, to set aside the judgment of the High Court and enter judgment in his favour against the defendants.
The Court of Appeal heard the appeal and in a reserved judgment allowed the appeal of the 3rd defendant and dismissed the claim of the plaintiff. The appeal of the 2nd defendant was dismissed pursuant to Order 6 rule 10 of the Court of Appeal Rules, the 2nd defendant having failed to file its brief of argument as required by the rules of that court. The cross-appeal of the plaintiff was dismissed.
He has further appealed to this court.
1. Whether the appellant proved that he suffered damage over and above the general public?
⦿ RESOLUTION OF ISSUE(S)
[APPEAL: DISMISSED WITH N10,000 COST]
1. ISSUE 1 WAS RESOLVED AGAINST THE APPELLANT BUT IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT.
i. From the pleadings and the evidence, the appellant maintained that he had no claims against the 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants. His evidence was a radical departure from his case as pleaded. The claim against the 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants failed at the close of the plaintiff’s case as no prima facie case was made out against those three defendants and the plaintiff’s claim as against them ought to have been dismissed at that stage. The need to hear the case of the three defendants did not therefore arise and a consideration of the case of three of the defendant could not have arisen until the plaintiff had led evidence showing prima facie, that they caused injury to him by causing the obstruction.
ii. On the state of the evidence adduced on behalf of the plaintiff, he made out no case in support of his claim against the 1st defendant that he suffered damages as a result of the act of the 1st defendant. He did not also lead evidence against the other defendants. Above all, the plaintiff failed to establish that as a private individual, he suffered over and above what might have been suffered by the general public through the obstruction of the highway.
⦿ SOME PROVISION(S)
⦿ RELEVANT CASE(S)
Mogaji and Ors v. Odofin and Ors (1978)
⦿ CASE(S) RELATED
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA
In civil cases, proof is based on balance of probabilities. The procedure for determining where the evidence preponderates is as outlined in the case of Mogaji and Ors v. Odofin and Ors (1978) 4 SC 91 at 94. The burden of proof in this case rested on the plaintiff who asserted the affirmative and he did not discharge it. – Ogwuegbu, JSC. Daudu v. NNPC (1998)