➥ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Unipetrol Nigeria Plc v. Edo State Board of Internal Revenue (2006) – SC
by PipAr Chima
Supreme Court – S.C. 286/2001
➥ JUDGEMENT DELIVERED ON:
Friday, the 7th day of April 2006
➥ AREA(S) OF LAW
Power to sue;
➥ NOTABLE DICTA
⦿ PROVISIONS OF STATUTE MUST BE GIVEN THEIR SIMPLE & PLAIN MEANING
The cardinal principle of law of interpretation is that a court when interpreting a provision of a statute must give the words and the language used their simple and ordinary meaning, and not to venture outside it by introducing extraneous matters that may lead to circumventing or giving the provision an entirely different interpretation to what the law maker intended it to be. – A.M. Mukhtar, JSC.
➥ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, J.S.C.
⦿ FOR THE APPELLANT
Chief Charles Adogah.
⦿ FOR THE RESPONDENT
➥ CASE HISTORY
The respondent had at the Mobile Revenue Court, Edo State, sitting at Benin framed a two-count charge against the appellant. The offences were laid against the appellant pursuant to section 51(2)(b) of the Income Tax Law, Cap. 71 Vol. Ill, Laws of Bendel State applicable in Edo State.
The appellant’s counsel filed a notice of preliminary objection the substance of which was that the respondent had not the capacity to initiate proceedings of a criminal nature against persons. It was further contended that it was only the Attorney-General of Edo State who could in any case bring such proceedings.
The trial judge, Omage J. (as he then was) on 9-2-98 dismissed the preliminary objection. In an appeal to the Court of Appeal, Benin Division (i.e. the court below), the appellant faired no better than it did before the trial court. It has brought a final appeal before this court.
➥ ISSUE(S) & RESOLUTION
I. Whether the respondent could validly undertake the pending criminal charge against the appellant in its corporate name?
RULING: IN RESPONDENT’S FAVOUR.
A. Actions that may be initiated are not confined to civil ones per se. As a matter of fact a careful perusal of the provision, with the use of the words ‘guilty’, ‘conviction’ and ‘imprisonment’ etc, should satisfy any one that actions predicated on criminality are involved. It is instructive to note that the charge framed against the appellant which I have already reproduced above, was brought pursuant to the said Section 51 (2) (b) of the Income Tax Law.
B. The competence of the respondent to initiate the case is clearly established by the Income Tax law of Bendel State supra, and I have already found so. In this light, the answer to the sole issue is in the affirmative; and the sole ground of appeal to which it is married fails, and it is dismissed.
➥ MISCELLANEOUS POINTS
➥ REFERENCED (STATUTE)
Section 4, 51, Income Tax Law Cap. 71 Laws of Bendel State, 1976, applicable to Edo State.
➥ REFERENCED (CASE)
➥ REFERENCED (OTHERS)