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TO DETERMINE STATUTE BARREDNESS IN RESPECT OF CUSTOMARY LANDS, THE LIMITATION LAW IS PECULIAR

Dictum

Nwiboeke V Nwokpuru (2016) LPELR-41524(CA) 13: “The argument by learned Counsel for the respondent that limitation laws are not applicable to customary law or actions to recover land held under Customary Law cannot be accommodated by the clear words of S. 3 of the limitation law. Such argument is contrary to that provision. It is clear from the opening words of that provision thusly; No action shall be brought by any person to recover any land’, that its legislative intention is that it should apply to actions by all persons in respect of lands without exception. This is supported by the definition of land in S. 2 of the same limitation law as including land held under a right of occupancy or any other tenure.”

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FOR PUBLIC SERVANT, SUIT MUST COMMENCE WITHIN THREE MONTHS

Lautech v. Ogunwobi (2006) 4 NWLR (Pt. 971) 569, “any action, prosecution, or other proceeding commenced against any person for any act done in pursuance or intended execution of any Law or of any public duty or authority, or in respect of any alleged neglect or default in the execution of any such Law, duty or authority, the action, prosecution or proceeding shall not lie or be instituted unless it is commenced within three months next after the act, neglect or default complained of, or in case of continuance of damage or injury, within three months after the cessation thereof”.

This case was relied on in MATTHEW OYE OLUWOLE V. POWER HOLDING COMPANY OF NIGERIA PLC (2012).

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ACCEPTANCE OF LIABILITY WILL STOP PERIOD OF LIMITATION FROM RUNNING

It is also settled law that generally negotiation by the party does not prevent or stop the period of limitation stipulated by a statute from running. This however is subject to qualification that where there has been admission of liability during negotiation and all that remains is fulfillment of the agreement it can not be just and equitable that the action would be barred after the statutory period of limitation giving rise to the action if the defendant were to resile from the agreement during negotiation. See NWADIARO v. SHELL PET. DEV. COY (1990) 5 NWLR (Pt.150) page 322 at 338 – 339; SHELL PET. DEV. COY. V. FARAH (1995) 3 NWLR (Pt.382) page 148 at 156 ratio 4.

— E. Eko, JCA. SPDC v. Ejebu (2010) – CA/PH/239M/2002

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PROCEEDINGS AFTER LIMITATION PERIOD IS DEFECTIVE

Lautech v. Ogunwobi (2006) 4 NWLR (Pt. 971) 569, “When the statute of limitation in question prescribed a period within which an action must be brought, legal proceedings cannot be properly or validly instituted after the expiration of the prescribed period. Any such action instituted must be struck out as not being properly, before the Court.” This case was relied on in MR. EMMANUEL AKABOM ENEBONG & ANOR v. ETUBOM ALEX OTU EDEM & ORS (2016)

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LIMITATION LAW SHOULD BE GIVEN BENEFICIAL CONSTRUCTION

The Limitation Law and all laws of this description ought to receive beneficial construction. They should be construed liberally but not in such a way as to read into them words not intended by the law makers as the majority decision of the court below portrayed. All limitation laws have for their object the prevention of the rearing up of claims that are stale. To contend that the defendant must prove plaintiff’s knowledge of such adverse possession for time to start to run, or the defendant’s presence on the land is to import a strange condition into the Limitation Law.

– Ogwuegbu JSC. Ajibona v. Kolawole (1996)

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PURPOSE OF LIMITATION LAW

The object of the Limitation Law is to penalise claimants who slumber over the enforcement of their rights.

– Ikyegh, JCA. SIFAX v. MIGFO (2015)

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NEGOTIATION DOES NOT STOP THE PERIOD OF LIMITATION FROM RUNNING

The learned trial Judge rightly conceded at page 31 of the Record, in her Ruling, that it is settled law that generally negotiation by the parties does not prevent or stop the period of limitation stipulated by a statute: from running. The law on this, as stated by the Supreme Court in JOHN EBOIGBE v. NNPC (1994) 5 NWLR [pt.346] 649 at 660 per Adio JSC, is that when in respect of a cause of action, the period of limitation begins to run, it is not broken, and it does not cease to run, merely because the parties engaged in negotiation. The rationales for this is that the parties can not by conduct or consent add to, or subtract from, the contents of a statute. Cases of waiver of a private right under a statute are different issues altogether.

— E. Eko, JCA. SPDC v. Ejebu (2010) – CA/PH/239M/2002

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