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DETERMINATION CONFINED TO CAUSE OF ACTION

Dictum

It must be borne in mind, the settled principle that the hearing and determination of any cause or matter must be confined to the cause of action and the issues raised on the pleadings.

– Ejinwunmi JSC. Awoniyi v. AMORC (2000)

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DEFINITION OF CAUSE OF ACTION

Authorities have also defined cause of action as a factual situation which a Plaintiff relies upon to support his claim, recognized by law as giving rise to a substantive right capable of being enforced against a Defendant. See Agbanelo v. Union Bank of Nigeria Ltd (2002) 4 SC (Pt. 7) 243; Adesokan v. Adegoloru (1997) 3 NWLR (Pt. 493) 61; Emiator v. Nigerian Army (1999) 12 NWLR (Pt. 631) 362; Akande v. Adisa (2004) All FWLR (Pt. 236) 413.

– Oseji, JCA. SIFAX v. MIGFO (2015)

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CAUSE OF ACTION IS SET OF FACTS WHICH JUSTIFIES PLAINTIFF TO SUE

Para. 21: “A cause of action is a set of facts sufficient to justify a right to sue. It must contain a clear and concise statement of the material facts upon which the pleader relies for his claim with sufficient particularity to enable the opposite party to reply thereto. The term “cause of action” was defined in McKenzie v Farmers’ Co-operative Meat Industries Ltd 1922 AD 16 at 23 as “…”every fact which would be necessary for the plaintiff to prove, if traversed, in order to support his right to the judgment of the Court. It does not comprise every piece of evidence which is necessary to prove each 22 fact, but every fact which is necessary to be proved.” See also Mousa Leo Keita (2004-2009) CCJELR pg. 75 See also Afolayan V. Oba Ogunrinde & 3 ORS, (1990), 1 NWLR, (Pt. 127) 369 @ 371. SCNJ 62. Where Karibi-Whyte JSC stated that a cause of action means: ‘a) A cause of complaints; b) A civil right or obligation for the determination by a Court of law; c) A dispute in respect of which a Court of law is entitled to invoke its judicial powers to determine.’”

— Osaghae v Nigeria (2017) – ECW/CCJ/JUD/03/17

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AN ILLEGALITY CANNOT BE MADE THE SUBJECT MATTER OF AN ACTION

In Langston vs. Hughes (1813) 1 M&S 593 or 12 Digest 270 at 2214, Ellenborough, C.J., held that: “What is done in contravention of the provisions of an Act of Parliament cannot be made the subject-matter of an action” cited in Bostel Bros. Ltd. vs. Hurlock (1948) 2 All E.R. 312 at 313.

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WHAT IS A CAUSE OF ACTION?

Literally, the noun ’cause’ simply means to bring about or effect. A ’cause of action’ invariably denotes a combination (group) of operative facts thereby resulting in one or more bases for suing. In a sense, a cause of action is a factual situation that entitles one person to a remedy in Court from another person. An action brought outside the prescribed period offends against the provision of the section and does not give rise to a cause of action. A cause of action means the factual situation stated by the Plaintiff, if substantiated, entitle him to a remedy against the defendant.

– Saulawa, JSC. Oko v. Ebonyi State (2021)

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INTEREST IS THE MEASURING ROD FOR A CAUSE OF ACTION – (ECOWAS Court)

ODAFE OSERADA V. ECOWAS COUNCIL OF MINISTERS, ECOWAS PARLIAMENT & ECOWAS COMMISSION, ECW/CCJ/JUD/01/08 @ 27, the Court held that: “Generally, and from a legal standpoint, the necessity for an Applicant to provide justification of interest in a case is attested to by the adage that where there is no interest, there is no action, and also an interest is the measuring rod for an action. In other words, an application is admissible only when the applicant justifies that he brings a case before a Judge for the purposes of protecting an interest or defending an infringement of such. Such an interest must be direct, personal and certain.”

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ACCRUAL OF RIGHT VS CAUSE OF ACTION

That accrual of rights is not the same thing as accrual of cause of action or accrual of right of action. The implication is that an unviolated right does not confer on the holder of right, any rights of action because there is no cause of action. In my humble view therefore, right of action and cause of action can be coterminous but accrual of right per se stands alone. It follows that accrual of right under the Constitution entitles the holder of the right to call in aid the judicial powers of the Court under our statutes. It is the infringement of that right which is the cause of action and gives the holder the right of action to activate the judicial powers of the Court under Section 6 (6) (a) & (b) of the CFRN 1999 as amended.

– M. Peter-Odili, JSC. Oko v. Ebonyi State (2021)

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