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IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE FEDERAL CAPITAL TERRITORY

IN THE ABUJA JUDICIAL DIVISION


HOLDEN AT COURT 9, ZUBA, FCT., ABUJA
BEFORE HIS LORDSHIP: HON. JUSTICE O.O. GOODLUCK
MOTION NO.: FCT/HC/M/1319/09

B E T W E E N:
UMARU DAMAGUM : : : : PLAINTIFF

AND
1. LAWAN HABIB BASHIR
2. HON. MINISTER, FEDERAL
CAPITAL TERRITORY
3. FEDERAL CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT DEFENDANTS
AUTHORITY,
4. AD-HOC COMMITTEE ON THE SALE OF
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA
HOUSES IN ABUJA.

R U L I NG
The 2nd – 4th Defendants herein have filed a Notice of preliminary
objection, challenging the competence of this suit accordingly they are
urging this Court to strike out this action.
The grounds for raising the objection are twofold; firstly they contend
that the 4th Defendant is not a juristic person, and, secondly on the grounds
that the 2nd and 3rd Defendants are improper parties to this suit hence this
Court has no jurisdiction over them.
Though the 2nd – 4th Defendants did not file an affidavit in support of
the preliminary objection, an undated written address was filed in
furtherance of the objection by Oba Maduagauchi Esq. There, he raised
two issues for determination as follows:
(a) Whether the 4th Defendant in this suit is a juristic person.
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(b) Whether the 2nd and 3rd Defendants are proper parties to this
suit over whom this Honourable Court can exercise jurisdiction.
On the 1st issue, Learned Counsel for the 2nd – 4th Defendants
commended this work to the decision in GSS KACHI v. KIBUDU (2005) 12
N.W.L.R. (PART 940) at page 549 where it was held thus:
“To be a competent party to a suit, the name must be the real name
by which that party is known in the case of a natural person or its corporate
name in the case of a legal entity”
It is the contention of Learned Counsel and quite rightly too, that the
4th Defendant, the Ad Hoc Committee on the Sale of Federal Government
Houses is not a juristic personality. Counsel for the 2nd – 4th Defendant’s
submission is that the Ad Hoc Committee cannot sue nor can it be sued in
so far as it is not an incorporated body under the law. See the decision in
AGBONMAGBE BANK LTD. v. GEN. MANAGER, G.B. OLIVIANT LTD.
(1961) ALL N.L.R. (PART 1) page 116.
Learned counsel for the 2nd – 4th Defendants has rightly noted that
this Court cannot make an order against an entity which is unknown to law.
It is in the light of these considerations that this Court is of the view and will
so hold that the 4th Defendant is not a juristic personality. Consequently,
issue one is answered in the negative.
Turning to the second issue Counsel has submitted that the 2nd and
3rd Defendants, are by law, seised with the duty of running and
administering the Federal Capital Territory.
The attention of this court has been drawn to the letter of offer,
paragraphs 1 and 2, paragraph 1 states thus: “We refer to your application
and subsequent walk-in bid to purchase the property owned by the Federal
Government of Nigeria situated at Block 24, Flat A, Federal Ministry of
Works and Housing Estate Gwarinpa, Abuja, FCT”. (Emphasis is mine)
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Paragraph 2 states thus: “This letter shall constitute the terms of


offer from the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) on behalf of
the Federal Government of Nigeria, the lessor” (Emphasis is mine)
Flowing from the foregoing paragraphs, Counsel for the 2nd – 4th
Defendants contends that the property which is the subject matter of this
suit belongs to the Federal Government of Nigeria. This being the case the
2nd – 4h Defendants are merely agents of the Federal Government of
Nigeria who is the principal in the instant scenario. Relying on the principle
enunciated in the case of LEVENTIS v. PETROJESIKA 4 SCNJ at 129,
Counsel has rightly submitted that the actual person to be sued by the
Plaintiff is the Federal Government of Nigeria and not its agent, the Federal
Capital Development Authority or the Minister of the FCT. It was held in
the Leventis v. Petrojosika that: “…The principle is that where the
principal of an agent is known or disclosed, the correct party to sue for
anything done or omitted to be done by the agent is the principal…”
Still on the appropriate person to be sued in a principal and agent
relationship, the 2nd – 4th Defendant’s Counsel relied on the illuminating
decision in the case of OKAFOR v. EZENWA (2002) 13 N.W.L.R. (PART
784) at page 319. This Court finds the decision appropriate for replication
here. It was held that:
“Where a person in making a contract discloses both the
existence and the name of a principal on whose behalf he
purports to make it, he is not, as a matter of general principle,
liable on the contract to the other contracting party. Indeed, an
agent on behalf of a known and disclosed principal incurs no
personal liability even where the disclosed principal is a
foreigner. In other words, a contract made by an agent acting
within the scope of his authority, a disclosed principal is, in law,
the contract of the principal and the principal and not the agent is
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the proper person to sue and be sued upon such contract. In the
instant case, the Respondents acted at all material times and in
relation to the PSPL Scheme as agents and on behalf of the BPE
and in accordance with the directives of the BPS. Every action or
inaction of the Appellant complained agent the Respondent could
only arise in the course of discharging the duties and
responsibilities entrusted to them by a known and fully disclosed
principal. Thus, as agents of a revealed principal, they were
unnecessary parties to the instant action”. (Emphasis are mine)
Finally, Counsel, has commenced this Court to the decision in
MADUAFOKWA v. ABIA STATE GOVT. (2009) 2 N.W.L.R. (PART 1126)
page 462 and contended that the 2nd – 4th Defendants are not competent
parties before this Court accordingly this suit should be struck out.
In reaction to the preliminary objection, the Plaintiff’s Counsel filed a
written address dated 8th November, 2010 where Learned Counsel
copiously referred to Sections 301, 299(a) of the 1999 Constitution of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria. Reference was also made to the Federal
Capital Territory Act No. 6 of 1976. In aid of his submission he relied on
the in OKOYODE v. FCDA (2005) W.R.N., page 97 at 125 lines 40 - 5
pages 151 lines 35 - 40 as well as pages 129 lines 35 – 40 and page 147
– 148 lines 45 -5.
In view of the heavy weather made by Learned Counsel for the
Plaintiff, this Court has read extensively the decision in that case.
However, this Court will hasten to state that the decision in the Okoyode
case is distinguishable from the facts before this Court. The facts in the
Okoyode case is that the Plaintiff executed a contract awarded to it by the
Federal Capital Development Authority, the Defendant in that case. A
Certificate of completion No, 23360 was issued to the Plaintiff on the 11th
August, 1998. The outstanding balance on the contract as debt was
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N5,005, 350.00K (Five Million, Five Thousand, Three Hundred and Fifty
Naira) out of which the Defendant paid N3,839,799.11 (Three Million, Eight
Hundred and Thirty-Nine Thousand, Seven Hundred and Ninety-Nine
Naira, Eleven Kobo) leaving a balance of N750,802.50 (Seven Hundred
and Fifty Thousand, Eight Hundred and Two Naira, Fifty Kobo). The
aggrieved Plaintiff instituted an action at the High Court of the FCT
following the Defendants failure and or neglect to pay the outstanding
balance. The trial Court judge raised the issue of jurisdiction suo moto and
invited Counsel to address him on whether the Court had jurisdiction to
entertain the case in view of the decision of the Supreme Court in NEPA v.
EDEGBERO (2003) 9 W.R.N. 1, (2002) 18 N.W.L.R. (PART 798) page 79.
This Court cannot loose tracks of the facts in this case and the
grounds for the preliminary objection. In the instant case, the Plaintiff was
offered a Federal Government House for sale. As noted in the letter 1st
and 2nd paragraphs of the letter of offer the property was offered to the
Plaintiff by the agents of the Federal Government, that is the Federal
Capital Development Authority. Unlike in the Okoyode case which
bordered on a contract directly between Okoyode and the Federal Capital
Development Authority, the Federal Capital Development Authority in the
instant case acted as agent of a disclosed principal, that is, the Federal
Government of Nigeria who were described in the letter of offer as the
“lessor”.
With greatest respect to Learned Counsel for the Plaintiff, he went on
another tangent when he went to lengths in his submission as it relates to
Sections 299(a) and 301 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria. Counsel without doubt misapplied the principle in the Okoyode
case seemed to have address.
The submission of Learned Counsel for the 2nd – 4th Defendants is to
the effect that the 2nd – 4th Defendants were acting as agents of a disclosed
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principal accordingly the proper party who ought to have been sued is the
principal, i.e. lessor or the owner of the property, the Federal Government
of Nigeria. Perhaps this Court’s view would have been different where the
Federal Capital Development Authority was acting as an independent legal
entity as in the Okoyode case supra relied upon by Learned Counsel for
the Plaintiff. Besides, unlike the Okoyode case where the trial Judge was
of the view that the case borders on jurisdiction and it invited both Counsel
to address it suo moto, in the instant case the document or letter of offer
expressly states that the proprietary interest in the subject matter of the
suit is that of the Federal Government and the 2nd Defendant is acting as
its agent in the transaction.
In the light of the decision LEVENTIS v. PETROJESSICA case and
the OKAFOR v. EZENWA cases supra this Court is not in doubt that the
proper parties who ought to have been sued in this action is the disclosed
principle, i.e., lessor or the owner of the Federal Government House which
is the subject matter of this suit.
In the light of the foregoing considerations this Court’s answer to 2nd
– 4th Defendant’s issue two is answered in the negative. This Court holds
that the 3rd – 4th Defendants are not necessary or competent parties in this
action.
Learned Counsel for the 2nd – 4th Defendants has urged this Court to
strike out this suit on account of the incompetence of parties. This Court
feels otherwise minded that this action has also been brought against the
1st 4th Defendant whose competence is proper before this Court. There is
no objection against the 1st Defendant. Notwithstanding the fact that the
2nd – 4th Defendants are not proper parties before this Court, the claim
against the 1st Defendant is unfettered by the non inclusion of the 2nd – 4th
Defendants. Putting it another way the action against the 1st Defendant
can still subsists. This being the case the 2nd – 4th Defendants’ prayer that
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the entire suit should be struck out fails. Nonetheless, this Court hereby
orders the striking out of the names of the 2nd – 4th Defendants for the
reasons hereinbefore stated.

O.O. GOODLUCK,
HON. JUDGE.
25th January, 2012.