Court name
Court of Appeal
Case number
L 503 of 11

Chief Obianodo v Chief Okharedia And Anor (L 503 of 11) [2016] NGCA 53 (27 April 2016);

Law report citations
Media neutral citation
[2016] NGCA 53
Headnote and holding:

The appellant, a federal government agency, claimed that the first respondent, in the lower court, sought relief while the matter was still pending in the high court and the jurisdiction was exclusive to the federal high court according to the constitution. The court considered whether the lower court had the jurisdiction for the withdrawal of a building plan that was an executive decision by the appellant. 

The court held that s 230(1) of Decree 107 of 1993 (‘the decree’, now s 251 of the constitution) automatically ousted the jurisdiction of the Lagos State High Court. This provision gave the federal high court exclusive jurisdiction in administrative or executive decision by the federal government or its agencies. The court also held that any decision or proceedings emanating from such a court are a nullity. 

The court found that the lower court did not have jurisdiction according to s 230(1) of the decree.

Accordingly, the court upheld the appeal.

 
In the Court of Appeal
Holden at Lagos
?

Between

Appellant

CHIEF VINCENT OBIANODO 

and

Respondent

1. CHIEF (MRS.) FLORENCE OKHAREDIA
2. FEDERAL HOUSING AUTHORITY 

?

Judgement

SIDI DAUDA BAGE, J.C.A. (Delivering the Leading Judgment): This is an appeal against the judgment of Honourable Justice O. A. Adefope-Okojie of the Lagos State High Court sitting at Ikeja delivered on the 20th of February, 2001 in Suit No. ID/1084/92, wherein the lower Court granted injunction and declaratory reliefs in favour of the 1st Respondent against both the Appellant and the 2nd Respondent (FHA). The 1st Respondent who was (the Plaintiff at the lower Court) filed her amended statement claim dated 10th day of March, 1994 and claimed as follows:
1) The Plaintiff who is retired from service and presently operates transport/haulage business at the Nigerian Breweries Iganmu, Lagos, is the allottee of and resident in Plot 331, C1 Close, 3rd Avenue, Festival Town, Lagos with his family and dependants.
2) The 1st Defendant is resident in and/or the allottee of Plot 315, C1 Close 3rd Avenue, Festival Town, Lagos.
3) The 3rd Defendant is a body corporate set up under Decree 40 of 1973 and charged with amongst other duties selling, letting, leasing or otherwise dealing with movable and unmovable property in execution of government housing programme.
4) The Plaintiff avers that on or about 3rd March, 1982 by letter of even date, pursuant to his earlier application, he was allotted a plot of land, more particularly described as Plot 330, B1 Close, 3rd Avenue, Festival Town, Lagos by the 2nd Defendant. The Plaintiff shall rely on the 2nd Defendant's letters, dated 3rd March, 1982 and 22nd March, 1982 with regard to the offer at trial.
5) The Plaintiff avers further that the exact location of the aforesaid plot is as set out in the 2nd Defendant's layout survey plan for the area executed by Mrs. Olatunde Kassim dated 18th October, 1982. The Plaintiff shall rely on the said plan and the 2nd Defendant is hereby put on notice to produce it at trial.
6) The Plaintiff avers that when he wanted to start construction works on the land, he discovered that it would be impracticable to put a date on B1 Close, which was intend to be the front of his plot, as the peculiar location of the said plot made the space that could be used as a gate for himself, his family, cars and lorries used for his business too small and inconvenient for that purpose.
7) The Plaintiff avers that this was coupled with the fact that the entrance on B1 Close was at the end of the close, and parking his lorries and cars that could not enter the compound outside the gate would have effectively blocked the area and greatly inconvenienced the adjoining houses on B1 Close.
8) The Plaintiff therefore applied to the 2nd Defendant for permission to build a wall fence with gates on C1 Close as against B1 Close in effect changing the front of his plot. This was approved by the 2nd Defendant who endorsed same on the Plaintiff's composite site plan showing the proposed wall fence on 10th April, 1987, though this approval was stated to be revocable and valid for 24 months. The Plaintiffs composite site plan showing the proposed wall fence on 10th April, 1987, though, this approval as stated to be revocable and valid for 24 months.
The Plaintiff shall rely on the aforesaid endorsed plan at trial.
9) The Plaintiff pursuant to the aforementioned approval constructed his wall fence accordingly and set up dual gates into his compound on C1 Close.
10) The Plaintiff avers that during this period, the 1st Defendant had completed his building, or moved into the property on Plat 315, C1 Close, 3rd Avenue, Festival Town, Lagos, which building was adequately fenced and did not encroach on the Plaintiff's allotted plot nor did it interfere with the Plaintiff's use and enjoyment of his property, inclusive of his now fully built up fenced and twin gates on C1 Close as averred.
11) The 2nd Defendant subsequently to earlier approvals granted, on or about 11th May, 1990 by letter of even date approved the Plaintiff's building plan dated 17th May, 1989.
The Plaintiff shall rely on the aforementioned plan and 2nd Defendant's letter of approval at trial.
12) The Plaintiff avers further that this latter approval of his building plan was not unlike the earlier ones stated to be revocable neither did it have a validity period ascribed to it.
13) The Plaintiff avers that in planning and putting up his building, since completed and presently inhabited by his family and dependents, he took cognizance and into consideration the fact that his gates, consequentially, the entrance to his premises were situate on C1 Close as approved, which approval was then unrevoked, and built his house accordingly.

14) The Plaintiff thereafter on or about 6th April, 1992 after he had completed and started inhabiting his property, noticed that the 1st Defendant was carrying out some construction works, more particularly and an extension works, more particularly and an extension of construction works, more particularly an extension of his fence and/or property. This extension/construction works purported to block off the Plaintiff earlier approved entrance, reduce the frontage of his property and interfere with his use and enjoyment thereof.
15) The Plaintiff in the light of the construction works averred to above wrote a letter of complaint dated 8th April, 1992 to the 2nd Defendant. The Plaintiff shall rely on this letter at trial and the 2nd Defendant is hereby put on notice to produce it.
16) The Plaintiff avers that, on or about 13th April, 1992 in the face of a non reply to his letter pleaded above and in the light, the 1st Defendant's perpetuation of his illegal construction work, trespass, private nuisance and the disruption of water supply to the Plaintiffs premises, he wrote another letter of the same date to the 2nd Defendant/Respondent, asking that a stop be put to these aforementioned illegal acts. The Plaintiff hereby puts the 2nd Defendant on notice to produce the aforesaid letter which he intends to rely on.
17) The Plaintiff to his utmost shock and consternation received a letter from the 2nd Defendant dated 23rd April, 1992, whereby they purported to withdraw all earlier approval granted him, for proposed and completed developments, inclusive of the approvals deposed to in paragraphs 8 and 11 above, which were granted almost 5 (five) years earlier. The Plaintiff shall rely on this letter at trial and hereby pleads it.
18) The 2nd Defendant went further to state in the above pleaded letter that the Plaintiff should submit his building plans, for mostly completed developments, about 5 to 6 years old, for possible re-approval, should seal up his two gates on C1 Close, which he built with their approval, 5 years ago, now purportedly rescinded, and construct and/or use a single pedestrian entrance to his boy's quarter situate on B1 Close as his sole entrance to his property.
19) The Plaintiff avers that he is with his family, dependants and visitors effectively blocked out from the use and enjoyment of the entrances into the Plaintiff's property and are constrained to park far away and walk into the house over ground muddied by construction work. The Plaintiff shall rely on photograph taken showing the construction works and the consequential water damage done to the entrance to his property.
20) The Plaintiff avers that he had purpose built his house to face Close C1 as earlier deposed and for him to be deprived of the use and enjoyment of the gates and/or frontage of his property, as the 2nd Defendant has asked of him is inequitable, unfair, illegal.

21) The Plaintiff shall contend at trial that:
(i) The 2nd Defendant is stopped from revoking altering or otherwise interfering with the approval earlier granted him with respect to developments on his plot, as he has, based on earlier approval granted him as deposed to herein substantially altered his position.
(ii) Conformity with directives of the 2nd Defendant as contained in its letter of 23rd April, 1992, and/or any revocation of the earlier approvals granted him would result his incurring substantial loss, inconvenience and damage, which may not be monetarily compensable.
(iii) The 2nd Defendant's directives as contained in its letter are an afterthought that seeks to validate an ultra-vires act which is premises on utmost mala fides.
(iv) He has incurred substantial damage already as the construction works carried out by the 1st Defendant supposedly with the 2nd Defendant's permission has:
(a) Put him in the light before his several business partners who assume that, he earlier arbitrarily constructed his house.
(b) Disrupted the water supply to his premises, which water supply the 1st Defendant has disallowed him, his family or worker by thereat of harm, from reconnecting with the attendant inconvenience to him and his family.

22) Wherefore the Plaintiff is seeking the following reliefs:
a. A perpetual injunction restraining the 1st Defendant from building and/or constructing a fence, wall or extension to his house situate at Plot 315, C1 Close, 3rd Avenue, Festival Town, Lagos, which fence wall or extension would cover the gate/frontage of the Plaintiff's house situate at Plot 330, C1 Close, 3rd Avenue, Festival Town, Lagos and interfere with the Plaintiff's use and enjoyment thereof.
b. A perpetual injunction to restrain the 2nd Defendant from granting the 1st Defendant permission and/or approval to carry out such construction works and/or extension work that would obstruct, block and/or interfere with the Plaintiff/Applicant's use and/or enjoyment of his dual gates and/or frontage situate at Plot 330, C1 Close, 3rd Avenue, Festival Town, Lagos.
c. A declaration that the approval(s) granted the 1st Defendant by the 2nd Defendant to build an extension wall fence and/or carry out such construction works as would affect the Plaintiffs use and enjoyment of his premises, mere particularly his fence and gates situate on C1 Close, 3rd Avenue, Festival Town, Lagos is ultra vires, null, void unjustifiable and inequitable, based on mala fides and as such should be revoked.
d. A mandatory order directing the 1st Defendant to undertake such action, construction works, etc as to restore the front of the Plaintiffs premises situate at Plot 331, C1 Close, 3rd Avenue, Festival Town, Lagos, to the state it was before the 1st Defendant undertook the construction woks as variously pleaded herein.
A declaration that the 2nd purported withdrawal of approval of all plans earlier approved in respect of developments (proposed and completed) on his aforesaid property (as per it's letter reference FHA/EST/TP/001, dated 23rd April, 1991 is ultra vires, null, void and inequitable.
f. A declaration that the approvals earlier granted the Plaintiff by the 2nd Defendant for his building plan and to build a wall fence more especially those dated 11th May, 1990 and 10th April, 1987 respectively, particularly in respect of Plot 330, C1 Close, 3rd Avenue, Festival Town, Lagos are valid, subsisting, ultra vires and cannot be now rescinded as the 2nd Defendant purposes to do.
g. N100,000 (One Hundred Thousand Naira only) as general damages from the 1st and 2nd Defendants.
Amended this 10th day of March, 1994, pursuant to order of the Honourable Court dated 8th day of March, 1994.

The brief summary of this case is as follows:
Upon being served with the statement of claim of the 1st Respondent, the 2nd Respondent filed his further amended statement of defence dated the 1st day of April, 1998. The Appellant (2nd Defendant at the lower Court) filed her further amended

statement of defence dated the 12th day of October, 1998. The reply to the 2nd Respondent and the Appellant's statement of defence was dated and filed 25th day of November, 1998. The full hearing of the matter commenced on 30th day of April, 1997. The judgment of the Court was delivered on the 20th day of February, 2001 with the Court granting five out of the seven reliefs sought for by the 1st Respondent. Accordingly, the appellant has appealed against the said judgment as per the notice of appeal dated 1st day of April, 2010 at pages 528-531 of the records. From the six (6) grounds of appeal, the Appellant has formulated the following two (2) issues for the determination of this appeal as follows:
1) Whether the jurisdiction of the High Court of Lagos State to try this case which was instituted on 30th April, 1992 and was concluded on 20th February, 2002 was not ousted with the promulgation of Decree No. 107 of 1993 and Section 251(1) (p) (q) and (r) of Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
2) Whether the Plaintiff (now Respondent) was not disentitled from the reliefs sought from the trial Court on the ground that he was guilty of misrepresentation. Grounds 1, 2 and 3 of the notice of appeal.

On the other hand, the 1st Respondent has formulated the following two (2) issues for the determination of this appeal as follows:
1) Whether the subject matter of this suit falls within the jurisdiction of the High Court of Lagos State?
2) Whether the learned trial judge was right when she held that the Plaintiff (1st Respondent) applied and obtained the requisite approvals for the change of her frontage?

On a careful perusal at the two set of issues proposed by both the Appellant and the 1st Respondent, having also read the judgment of the learned trial Court, the two (2) issues proposed by the 1st Respondent, have adequately captured the two (2) as proposed by the Appellant. This Court has therefore adopted the two issues of the 1st Respondent, in the determination of this appeal.

ISSUE ONE
Whether the subject matter of this suit falls within the jurisdiction of the High Court of Lagos State?
In arguing this issue, the learned counsel for the Appellant contended that the 1st respondent commenced the suit subject matter of this appeal at the Ikeja Division of

Lagos State High Court on the 30th day of April, 1992 against the 2nd Respondent and Appellant being a Federal Government Agency set up by statute i.e. Decree No. 40 of 1973. The relief sought by the 1st Respondent against the Appellant was set out while the suit was still pending at the said High Court in 1993, the Federal Government of Nigeria promulgated Decree No. 107 of 1993 specifically Section 

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239(1) (q) (f) and (s) of the Constitution and (Suspension Modification) Decree No. 107 of 1993 and in 1999 when the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria commenced. From the provisions of the said Decree/Constitution, the Appellant no doubt is a Federal Government Agency. Also from the reliefs sought for by the 1st Respondent at the lower Court as highlighted in their paragraph 4.3 and per paragraph 22 (b) (k) (c) and (f) of the statement of claim are for declaration or injunction affecting the validity of the executive or administrative action or decision by the Appellant being a Federal Government Agency as per Section 230 (1) (s) of the Decree. Accordingly, the said decree by its said provision, automatically ousted the jurisdiction of the Lagos

State High Court, to entertain and or continue with entertainment of the said suit, having by its strict provision specifically given the Federal High Court exclusive jurisdiction in such matters. The law is that, where a matter was instituted or pending before the law, and or statute ousting the Court's jurisdiction as in the present case, the Court was still without jurisdiction to continue with the matter. See S.P.D.C. LTD v. ISAIAH (2001) F.W.L.R. (Pt. 56) 608; which is almost on all fours with the present matter. In that case, the action was commenced before the promulgation of Decree 107 of 1993 as in the instant case. See also OLUTOLA v. UNIVERSITY OF ILORIN (2005) ALL FWLR (Pt. 245) 1151; (2004) 18 NWLR (Pt. 905) 416; OYEMA v. OPUTA (1987) 2 NSCC P.900; OBIKOYA v. THE REGISTRAR OF COMPANIES & ANOR (1975) NSCC VOL.9 P.196 at 197. We urge this Court to hold that the lower Court was without jurisdiction to have continued and concluded the matter by virtue of Section 230 (1) (q) (r) (s) of the Constitution (suspension and modification) Decree No. 107 of 1993 and Section 251 (1) (p) (q) (r) and of the 1999 Constitution.

 In reply to the submissions of the learned counsel for the Appellant above, learned counsel for the 1st Respondent contended that the, 1st Respondent instituted this action against the Appellant and 2nd Respondent (as an agency of the Federal Government) before the lower Court via a writ of summons and statement of claim on the 30th of April, 1992 under the existing law of Section 236 of the 1979 Constitution that gave unlimited jurisdiction to the state High Court, to entertain matters generally, which had no feature that prevented the lower Court from exercising its jurisdiction over the matter as at the time proceedings in the matter began. Although, while the matter was still pending before the lower Court, Decree No. 107 of 1993 was promulgated, after all parties had already taken steps to submit to the Court's jurisdiction. The Appellant in its 1st ground of appeal at pages 5-11 of the Appellant's brief contended that the, promulgation of Section 230(1) of Decree No.107 of 1993 had ousted the lower Court's jurisdiction to entertain and determine the suit, since the Appellant is an agency of Federal Government. In arguing this ground of appeal, the Appellant relied on the cases of S.P.D.C. (NIG) LTD v. ISAIAH (2001) FWLR (Pt. 56) 608; OLUTOLA v. UNIVERSITY OF ILORIN (2005) ALL FWLR (Pt. 245) 1151 in which the Apex Court held that the promulgation of Section 230 of Decree 107 ousted the jurisdiction of the state High Courts of first instance to entertain and determine the cases in which proceedings had not commenced before the decree came into existence.

Learned counsel contended further that, contrary to the Appellant's contention that the jurisdiction of a Court is determined by reference to the Plaintiff's claim or reliefs sought. It is the claim before the Court that has to be examined in order to ascertain whether or not it comes within the jurisdiction of the Court. This is because, only the claims or reliefs donate jurisdiction to the Court, and not parties see ONUORAH v. KADUNA REFINING PETROCHEMICALS COMPANY (2005) 6 NWIR (Pt. 921) 393. In the instant case, all the reliefs which form the subject matter of the claim sought zero down on injunction/declaratory reliefs, easement and rights attaching to land over which the Federal High Court has no jurisdiction see MADUKOLU v. NKEMDILIM (1962) 2 SCNLR PAGE 341 as reproduced in

ISAAC OBIUWEUBI v. CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA (2011) 7 NWLR (Pt. 1247) 465. The subject matter of the instant dispute is the purported withdrawal of an approval of all plans earlier granted by the Appellant for a change of 1st Respondent's frontage from B1 Close to C1 Close, upon the 2nd Respondent's petition. It is worthy of note that, the 1st Respondent's application for change of frontage was borne out of necessity to share a right of way with the 2nd Respondent since she discovered before commencement of construction that, only 7.6 metres would be left if she had her frontage facing B1 Close as against the 23 metres if the frontage was facing C1 Close, See Blacks Law Dictionary on meaning easement. See also MUNIYAS (NIG) LTD & ANOR v. MR. SHITTU ASHAFA & 4 ORS (2011) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1242) 85; OKUNZUA v. AMISU & ANOR 91992) 6 NWLR (Pt. 248) 417. On the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court on land matters see ALHAJI KARIMU ADISA v. EMMANUEL OYINWOLA & 4 ORS (2000) 10 NWLR (Pt. 674) 116 at 217; NIGERIAN INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL RESEARCH (NIMR) v. NATIONAL UNION OF ROAD TRANSPORT WORKERS (NURTW) 2010 12 NWLR (Pt. 1208) 328 at 334; OLADELE OLADIPO v. NIGERIA CUSTOMS SERVICE BOARD (2009) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1156) 563 at 569. Again, on the interpretation 230(1) of the (suspension and modification) Decree No. 107 of 1993, see ERATUS OBIOHA v. IYIBO KIO DAGE (1994) 2 NWLR (Pt. 325) 157 at 180-181; HON. ADEBAYO DAVID v. ALFA ABDUL GANIYU JOLAYEMI (2011) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1258) 320; BROAD BANK v. OLAYIWOLA (2005) 3 NWLR (Pt. 912) 434.

Learned counsel further submitted that based on the foregoing arguments and decided authorities that, it is the subject matter of acclaim that donates jurisdiction to a Court and not parties in disputes. Consequently, it is our humble submission that all the reliefs forming the subject matter of the dispute are easement and rights attaching to land and as such, the Federal High Court has no jurisdiction to entertain and determine this matter.

The learned counsel to the Appellant in their reply brief filed 1st April, 2016 but deemed filed on 5th April, 2016, submitted that, the real cause of action and or subject matter of 1st Respondent's suit at the lower Court by her amended statement of claim at pages 165-172 of record of Appeal remains the withdrawal/revocation by the Appellant

of all plan approvals it earlier granted to the 1st Respondent as against the permission and or approval granted the 2nd Respondent by the Appellant for his construction works. The withdrawal and or cancellation of her building plans by the Appellant by reason of which fact, the suit was instituted remains the subject matter of the suit from the amended statement of claim of the 1st Respondent. The argument of the 1st Respondent to the effect that the easement/right of way is the subject matter of her suit is a futile one and purely academic. Clearly therefore, the Appellant is a Federal Government Agency and the action against it being for a declaration or injunction affecting the validity of its administrative action brings the matter within the purview of Section 251(1) of the 1999 Constitution, thereby giving the Federal High Court exclusive jurisdiction to entertain same. See Section 257(1) of the 1999 Constitution on jurisdiction of the High Court over any civil proceedings. Also Section 39(1) of the Land Use Act which gave the state High Court exclusive jurisdiction over land matter. The 1st Respondent cannot even rely on the proviso to Section 251(1) of the 1999 Constitution to confer such jurisdiction on the State High Court. See NEPA v. EDEGBERO (2003) FWLR (Pt. 36) 1556. Also jurisdiction being a threshold can be raised at any stage of the trial, even before the Supreme Court. See STATE v. ONAGORUWA (1992) 2 NWLR (Pt. 221) 33; OYENIRAN v. EGBETOLA (1997) 5 NWLR (Pt. 504) 122.

On the part of this Court, all the submissions above are carefully examined. The issue of jurisdiction of a Court to adjudicate over a matter before it is threshold issue that goes to the root or foundation of adjudication. This stems from trite position of the law that, if is discovered that a Court has no jurisdiction to adjudicate over a matter, any decision or proceedings emanating from such a Court regarding that matter, no matter how well rendered or conducted is a nullity. On this position, see MADUKOLU & ORS v. NKEMDILIM (1962) 1 ALL NLR 581; LEEDO PRESIDENTIAL MOTEL v. B.O.N. LTD & ANOR (1998) 10 NWLR (Pt. 570) 353 at 390-391 and MANAGEMENT ENTERPRISES LTD v. OTUSANYA (1987) 2 NWLR (Pt. 55) 179.
In MADUKOLU & ORS v. NKEMDILIM (supra) the Supreme Court highlighted the conditions precedent to a Court assuming jurisdiction. According to the Apex Court, a Court is competent to adjudicate in a matter before it only when:
i. It is properly constituted with respect to the number and qualification of its members.
ii. The subject matter of the action is within its jurisdiction.
iii. The action is initiated by due process of law and
iv. Any condition precedent to the exercise of its jurisdiction has been fulfilled.

With respect of the instant appeal, the second condition (ii) become relevant. The question remains whether the subject matter of this action is within the jurisdiction of the state High Court which heard and determined same. The determination of jurisdiction of the Court, over the subject matter, or any consideration for that matter, is the Plaintiffs claim. We have elaborately set out the Plaintiffs or 1st Respondent's claim at the lower Court earlier on in this judgment. The point here is that, it is the claim before the Court that has to be looked at, or examined, to ascertain whether it comes within the jurisdiction conferred on the Court. See ADEYEMI v. OPEYORI (1976) 9-10 S.C. 31 at 51; WESTERN STEEL WORKS v. IRON &

STEEL WORKERS (1987) 1 NWLR (Pt. 49) 284; TUKUR v. GOVT. OF GONGOLA STATE (1989) 20 N.S.C.C. (Pt. 111) 225 at 241; (1989) 4 NWLR (Pt. 117) 517 at 549. In order to ascertain the subject matter of the case at the lower Court, it become apposite to glean at some relevant paragraphs of the amended statement of claim of the Plaintiff now 1st Respondent in this Court, to be found on pages 165-172 of the record of appeal. Paragraph 17 provides:
"The Plaintiff to his utmost shock and consternation received a letter from the 2nd Defendant (Appellant) dated 23rd April, 1992 whereby they purported to withdraw all earlier approvals granted him for proposed and completed developments inclusive of the approvals deposed to in paragraph 8 and 11 above, which were granted almost 5 (five) years earlier."
Paragraph 21:
"The Plaintiff shall contend at the trial that:

i. The 2nd Defendant is stopped from revoking altering or otherwise interfering with the approval earlier granted him with respect to development on his plot, as he has based on earlier approval granted him as deposed to herein substantially altered his position.
ii. Conformity with

directives of the 2nd Defendant as contained in its letter of 23rd April, 1992 and/or any revocation of the earlier approvals granted him would result his incurring substantial loss, in convenience and damage which may not be monetarily compensable
iii. The 2nd Defendant's directives as contained in its letter are an afterthought that seeks to validate an ultra-vires act which is premised on utmost mala fides.
iv. He has incurred substantial damage already as the construction works carried out by the 1st Defendant supposedly with the 2nd Defendant's permission has:
a. Put him in a light before his several business partners who assume that he earlier arbitrarily constructed his house.
b. Disrupted the water supply to his premises, which water supply the 1st Defendant has disallowed him, his family or workers by threat of harm from reconnecting with the attendant inconvenience to him and his family.

Paragraph 27. Wherefore the Plaintiff is seeking the following reliefs:
(b) A perpetual injunction restraining the 2nd Defendant from granting the 1st Defendant's permission and or approval to carry out such construction works and/or extension work that would obstruct, block and/or interfere with the Plaintiff's/Applicant's use and/or enjoyment of his dual gates and/or frontage situate at Plot 330, C1 Close 3rd Avenue, Festival Town, Lagos.
(c) A declaration that, the approval(s) granted the 1st Defendant by the 2nd Defendant to build an extension wall fence and/or carry out such construction work as would affect the Plaintiff's use and enjoyment of his premises, more particularly his fence and gates situate on C1 Close, 3rd Avenue, Festival Town, Lagos is ultra vires, null, void unjustifiable and inequitable, based on mala fides and as such should be revoked.
(d) A mandatory order directing the 1st Defendant to undertake such action, construction works, etc as to restore the frontage of the Plaintiffs premises situate at Plot 331, C1 Close, 3rd Avenue, Festival Town, Lagos to the state, it was before the 1st Defendant undertook the construction works as variously pleaded herein.
(e) A declaration that, the 2nd Defendant purported withdrawal of approval of all plans earlier approved in respect of developments (prepared and completed) on his aforesaid property (as per its letter reference FHA/EST/TP/001 dated 23rd April, 1991 is ultra vires, null, void and inequitable.
(f) A declaration that the approvals earlier granted the Plaintiff by the 2nd Defendant for his building plan and to build a wall fence more especially, those dated 11th May, 1990 and 10th April, 1987 respectively, particularly in respect of Plot 330, C1 Close, 3rd Avenue, Festival Town, Lagos are valid subsisting intra vires, and cannot be now rescinded as the 2nd Defendant purposes to do."

From the paragraphs set out from the amended statement of claim of the Plaintiff [now 1st Respondent] it is without doubt that, the subject matter of dispute, or cause of action of the 1st Respondent's suit, at the lower Court was the action of the Appellant's withdrawing or revoking all approved plans of the 1st Respondent for proposed and completed developments on his property and the approval or permission granted to the 2nd Respondent by the Appellant for construction on the 2nd Respondent's property. There is nothing like a land matter brought about by inconvenience of access to property, as claimed by the 1st Respondent. The subject matter of the claim

remains the withdrawal and or cancellation of her building plan which is purely executive or administrative action of the Appellant. Let me mention here, Section 39 of the Land Use Act which provides that:
1) "The High Court shall have exclusive original jurisdiction in respect of the following proceedings:
(a) Proceedings in respect of any land the subject of statutory right of occupancy granted by the Governor or deemed to be granted by him under this Act, and for the purpose of this paragraph proceedings for a declaration to a statutory right of occupancy."

Section 5(1) of the Land Use Act High Court means the High Court of the state concerned. There is no doubt that the amended statement of claim of 1st Respondent does not have any nexus with statutory right of occupancy granted by Governor. It is not connected to a proceeding for a declaration to a statutory right of occupancy which gives such exclusive jurisdiction to the state High Court. A revocation of approvals of construction which creates inconvenience of access to property or a right of way is purely an administrative action. The provisions of Section 230 of the Decree 107 of 1993 as reproduced under Section 251 of the 1999 Constitution is applicable to the instant case. The section provides as follows:
"Notwithstanding anything contrary contained in this Constitution, and in addition to such other jurisdiction as may be conferred upon it by an Act of the National Assembly or a Decree, the Federal High Court shall have and exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion to any other Court in civil causes and matters arising from:
(q) The administration or the management and control of the Federal Government or any of its agencies;
(r) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the operation and interpretation of this Constitution in so far, as it affects the Federal Government or any of its agencies and
(s) Any action or proceeding for a declaration or injunction affecting the validity of any executive or administrative action or decision by the Federal Government or any of its agencies."
Provides that, nothing in the provisions of paragraph (q) (r) and (s) of this subsection shall prevent a person from seeking redress against the Federal Government or any of its agencies in an action for damages injunction or specific performance, where the action is based on any enactment, law or equity. This last part which is a proviso and thus cannot be read in isolation to main sections of the constitution. The long and short of this discourse, remains the fact that, Apex Court has since settled this issue. Actions which affects the Federal Government or any of its agencies (The Federal Housing Authority) Appellant in this case, which relates to validity of executive or administrative action or decision, the Federal High Court, to exclusion of any other Court has jurisdiction over. We have stated earlier in this judgment, it is to be repeated again that, the revocation of the construction plans earlier granted to 1st Respondent was purely an administrative action. By law therefore, it is the Federal high Court and not the Lagos State High Court, that is seize with the jurisdiction over 1st Respondent's case filed at the lower Court. On the interpretation given to Section 230 (1) of Decree No. 107 of 1993 now Section 251 of the 1999 Constitution. See ONUORAH v. KADUNA REFINING PETROCHEMICALS COMPANY (2005) 6 NWLR (Pt. 921) 393; ALHAJI KARIMU ADISA v. EMMANUEL OYINWOLA & 4 ORS (2000) 10 NWLR (Pt. 674) 116 at 217; NIGERIAN INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL RESEARCH (NIMR) v. UNION OF ROAD TRANSPORT WORKERS (NURTW) (2010) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1208) 328 at 334.

In the above regard, the fact that, the Appellant is a Federal Government Agency and the action against it being for a declaration or injunction affecting the validity of its administrative action brings the matter within the purview of Section 251(1) of the 1999 Constitution, thereby giving the Federal High Court exclusive jurisdiction to entertain same. See also the decision of the Supreme Court in NEPA v. EDEGBERO (2003) FWLR (Pt. 139) 1556 at 1570 paras. D-H. I resolve issue one (1) against the 1st Respondent.

On issue No. 2 whether the learned trial judge was right when she held that the Plaintiff applied and obtained the requisite approvals for the change of her frontage was a decision arrived at without jurisdiction, and at best, a nullity. The Court having become bereft of jurisdiction, the order or decision made without jurisdiction is a nullity as one cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stay there, it will surely collapse. See MACFOY v. U.A.C. LTD (1962) AC 152 at 160; also the NIGERIAN CASE OF AWOYEMI v. FASUAN (2006) 13 NWLR (Pt. 996) 86 at 107 paras. A-B.

On the whole therefore, this appeal is meritorious, and it is hereby allowed. The judgment of the Lagos State High Court, Coram Honourable Justice O. A. Adefope-Okojie sitting at Ikeja division in Suit No. ID/1084/92, delivered on the 20th day of February, 2001 is hereby set aside for lack of jurisdiction. Costs not awarded.

CHINWE EUGENIA IYIZOBA, J.C.A.: I read before now the judgment just delivered by my learned brother, SIDI DAUDA BAGE, JCA. I am in full agreement with the reasons and the conclusions in the judgment. It is not in doubt that the complaint of the 1st Respondent in his amended statement of claim as comprehensively set out at pages 27 to 31 of the lead judgment is against the administrative act of the Appellant in withdrawing or revoking earlier approvals given to him. It has no nexus to any issue touching on land as provided in Section 39 of the Land Use Act. By Section 251(1) of the 1999 Constitution, it is the Federal High Court that has jurisdiction. I abide by the consequential orders in the lead judgment.

JAMILU YAMMAMA TUKUR, J.C.A.:  My learned brother SIDI DAUDA BAGE, JCA granted me the opportunity of reading in draft the lead judgment delivered.

 I agree that the appeal is meritorious and should be allowed. I therefore also allow it and abide by the consequential orders made including order as to costs.?

Counsel

Appearances

P. O. Jimoh-Lasis (SAN) with him, Lawal Yusuf For Appellant
A. H. Olarewaju-Kadri with him, A. Adade for 1st Respondent
Jude Odome for 2nd Respondent For Respondent