In NEW NIGERIAN NEWSPAPERS LTD. V. AGBOMABINI (2013) LPELR-20741(CA) held that: “An incorporated limited liability company is always regarded as a separate and distinct entity from its shareholders and directors. The consequence of recognizing the separate personality of a company is to draw the veil of incorporation over the company. No one is entitled to go behind the veil. This corporate shell shall however be cracked in the interest of justice” Per ABIRU, J.C.A. (Pp. 40-41, Paras. F-E).

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On this appeal, it was argued by counsel on behalf of the respondent that even though it may be a legal entity in its country of incorporation, it had no artificial personality in Nigeria since the Companies Act is silent on whether a company such as the appellant would be allowed to sue or not. That submission is misconceived. The principle of law that a foreign corporation, duly created according to the laws of a foreign state recognized by Nigeria, may sue or be sued in its corporate name in our courts is part of the common law. The suggestion that a foreign company duly incorporated outside Nigeria should first be registered in Nigeria under the provisions of the Companies Act, 1968 (which was then the applicable statute) dealing with registration of foreign companies, notwithstanding that it does not fall into the category of foreign company” as defined by that Act, is too preposterous and patently inimical to international trade to merit any prolonged or serious consideration. It suffices to say that the appellant company which was admitted by the respondent to be a limited liability company with its registered office in Copenhagen properly sued in its corporate name.

— Ayoola, JSC. Saeby v. Olaogun (1999) – SC.261/1993

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In Littlewoods Stores Ltd v. I.B.C. (1969)1 W.L.R. 1241 Lord Denning M.R. said: “The doctrine laid down in Salomon’s case has to be watched very carefully. It has been supposed to cast a veil over the personality of a limited liability company through which the Court cannot see. But that is not true. The Court can and often do draw aside the veil. They can and often do pull the mask. They look to see what really lies behind. The legislature has shown the way in group accounts and the rest. And the Court would follow suit.”
The English case of Jones v. Lipman (1962)1 WLR 832 exemplifies the situations in which the corporate veil will be lifted when a company is used as a mere facade concealing the true facts, which essentially means it is formed to avoid pre-existing legal obligations.

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Let me quickly state that Section 417 of Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990 is in all fours with Section 580 of Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020. Now Section 417 of Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990 provides:- “…if a winding up order is made or a provisional liquidator is appointed, no action or proceedings shall be proceeded with against the company except by leave of the Court.” The above provision is very clear and unambiguous. It means clearly that if a winding up order is made or a provisional liquidator is appointed, no action or proceedings shall be proceeded with against the company undergoing liquidation. The intendment of the said provision is not to stop an aggrieved party from proceeding against the company which has been issued a winding up order or which a provisional liquidator has been appointed, but that leave of Court must be sought and obtained before commencing the action or proceedings.

— J.I. Okoro, JSC. Universal Properties v. Pinnacle Comm. Bank, NJA, Opia, Heritage, Fatogun (SC.332/2008, Friday, April 08, 2022)

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This reasoning assumes, as I understand it, that if the transaction under consideration is genuinely regarded by the parties as a sound commercial transaction negotiated at arm’s length and capable of justification on purely commercial grounds, it cannot offend against s.54 [Companies Act 1948]. This is, I think, a broader proposition than the proposition which the judge treated as having been accepted by counsel for Belmont. If A Ltd buys from B a chattel or a commodity, like a ship or merchandise, which A Ltd genuinely wants to acquire for its own purposes, and does so having no other purpose in view, the fact that B thereafter employs the proceeds of the sale in buying shares in A Ltd should not, I would suppose, be held to offend against the section; but the position may be different if A Ltd makes the purchase in order to put B in funds to buy shares in A Ltd. If A Ltd buys something from B without regard to its own commercial interests, the sole purpose of the transaction being to put B in funds to acquire shares in A Ltd, this would, in my opinion, clearly contravene the section, even if the price paid was a fair price for what is bought, and a fortiori that would be so if the sale to A Ltd was at an inflated price. The sole purpose would be to enable (ie to assist) B to pay for the shares. If A Ltd buys something from B at a fair price, which A Ltd could readily realise on a resale if it wished to do so, but the purpose, or one of the purposes, of the transaction is to put B in funds to acquire shares of A Ltd, the fact that the price was fair might not, I think, prevent the transaction from contravening the section, if it would otherwise do so, though A Ltd could very probably recover no damages in civil proceedings, for it would have suffered no damage. If the transaction is of a kind which A Ltd could in its own commercial interests legitimately enter into, and the transaction is genuinely entered into by A Ltd in its own commercial interests and not merely as a means of assisting B financially to buy shares of A Ltd, the circumstance that A Ltd enters into the transaction with B, partly with the object of putting B in funds to acquire its own shares or with the knowledge of B’s intended use of the proceeds of sale, might, I think, involve no contravention of the section, but I do not wish to express a concluded opinion on that point.

— Buckley LJ. Belmont v Williams [1980] 1 ALL ER 393

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It is now trite in law that a company or corporate body not being a human being cannot act on its own and so carries out activities through human beings who are the operators or managers of the corporate body and so the manager or operators do not become personally liable for acts carried out for and on behalf of the company in the management or day to day business of the company. The follow up is that the company is an abstraction and operates through living persons and so an officer of the company takes an action in furtherance of the affairs of the company who is the principal and it is that principal that is liable for any infraction occasioned by those acts and not the official or employee. SeeN.N.S.C. v Sabana Company Ltd (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt.74) 23; Yusuf v Kupper International NV (1996) 4 NWLR (Pt.446) 17; UBN Ltd v Edet (1993) 4 NWLR (Pt.287) 288; Niger Progress Limited v North East Line Corporation (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt 107) 68.

— Tanko Muhammad, JSC. Berger v Toki Rainbow (2019) – SC.332/2009

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The magisterial pronouncements in these ex cathedra authorizes, with due respect, expose the poverty of the alluring submission of the appellants counsel on the stubborn point. PW1 described himself as the chairman of the board of directors of the respondent. The respondent is a duly incorporated company under the Nigerian Companies and Allied Matters Act. By the registration, it is a persona ficta, a juristic personality which can only act through an alter ego such as its agents or servants, directors, managers, see Kate Enterprise Ltd v. Daewoo (Nig.) Ltd. (supra); Interdrill (Nig.) Ltd. v. UBA Plc. (supra). To label the PW1s evidence as hearsay, as pontificated by the appellants, will be antithetical to the corporate personality of the respondent, a legal abstraction, devoid of blood, flesh, brain and other human features.

— O.F. Ogbuinya, JCA. Impact Solutions v. International Breweries (2018) – CA/AK/122/2016

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