Parties: Yanaty Petrochemical Limited v. Economic and Financial Crimes Commission
Appeal No: SC/68/2016
Court: Supreme Court
IBRAHIM TANKO MUHAMMAD, J.S.C. (Presided)
OLUKAYODE ARIWOOLA, J .S .C. (Read the Leading Judgment)
AMINA ADAMU AUGIE, J.S.C.
EJEMBI EKO, J.S.C
Citation: (2018) 5 NWLR (Pt. 1611) P.97
Facts: The appellant as the plaintiff at the trial Federal High Court commenced proceedings against the respondent by way of an originating summons in which it sought the determination of the following questions:-
- Whether in view of the judgment delivered by Hon. Justice A. R. Mohammed on the 22nd day of May, 2013 in suit No. FHC / ABJ/ CS/ 617/ 2012 – Yanaty Petrochemical Limited v. Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency & Anor and in particular relief 2 therein, investigation into any allegation of fraud and money laundering with respect to the payment of fuel subsidy and which investigation was by relevant agencies including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission or any other agency has been concluded.
- Justice .A. R. Mohammed on the 22nd day of May, 2013 in suit No. FHC/ ABJ/ CS/617/2012, Yanaty Petrochemical Limited v. Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency & Anor. the respondent or any other agency can further investigate or reopen any investigation into fraud or money laundering arising from the payment of subsidy to the plaintiff by the PPPRA.
- Whether the honourable court by virtue of the judgment delivered on the 22′ day of May 2012 in suit NO.FHC/ ABJ/CS/617/2012 Yanaty Petrochemical Limited v. Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency & Anor where it held that the plaintiff, not being indicted in previous investigation by various security agencies, panels and investigating bodies set up to investigate the issue of fraud or money laundering arising out of the payment of fuel subsidies granted to the plaintiff, the defendant is restrained from conducting any new or further investigation into any allegation of fraud and money laundering against the plaintiff.
If the answers to the above question raised are in the affirmative, the appellant then sought the following reliefs against the respondent:
- A declaration that as far as the plaintiff is concerned, investigation on the payment of fuel subsidies by the respondent or indeed any other agency has been concluded.
- An order of injunction restraining the defendants whether by themselves, their servants, agents, privies or representatives or any other agency from carrying out any act capable of restricting the movement of the plaintiff or any of its staff with regards to the above named suit on the basis of fraud and money laundering.
- An order of injunction restraining the defendants whether by themselves, their servants, agents, privies or representatives or any other agency from violating the plaintiff’s fundamental right to personal liberty and freedom of movement as guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended)
- And for such other or further orders as this honourable court shall deem necessary to make in the circumstances.”
In support of the said originating summons was an affidavit of 29 paragraphs. Annexed to the said affidavit were six (6) exhibits marked as YAN 1 to YAN 6 respectively. A written address was also filed as required by the rules.
In response to the originating summons, the respondent filed a counter affidavit of 13 paragraphs to which couple of exhibits were annexed and marked as exhibits 1-11 respectively and a written address in support.
The appellant later filed a reply on points of law, in response to the respondent’s processes served on the appellant. A further and better affidavit of 30 paragraphs was also filed to which couples of exhibits were attached and marked exhibits PET7-23 respectively.
At the conclusion of hearing, the trial court gave judgment in favour of the appellant and granted all the reliefs sought by the appellant.
Being dissatisfied with the judgment of the trial court, the respondent appealed to the Court of Appeal. In its reserved judgment delivered on 7th December 2015, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and set aside the judgment of the trial court in its entirety.
Dissatisfied with the decision of the Court of Appeal the appellant appealed to the Supreme Court.
Principle: On Distinction between judgment in rem and judgment in personam
A judgment is said to be in rem when it is an adjudication pronounced upon the status of some particular thing or subject matter by a tribunal having the jurisdiction and the competence to pronounce on that status. Such a judgment is usually and invariably founded on proceedings instituted against or on something or subject matter whose status or condition is to be determined. It is therefore a solemn declaration on the status of some persons or thing. It is thus binding on all persons in so far as their interests in the status of the property or person are concerned. That is why a judgment in rem is a judgment contra mundum binding on the whole world-parties as well as non-parties.
A judgment in personam on the other hand is a judgment against a particular person. It will be more accurately called a judgment inter partes. A judgment in personam usually creates a personal obligation as it determines the right of parties inter se to, or in the subject matter in dispute a liquidated or unliquidated demand but does not affect the status of either the persons to the dispute or the thing in dispute. (Dike v. Nzeka (1986) 4 NWLR (Pt. 34) 144; Rhein Mass GMBH v. Rivway Lines Ltd. (1998) 5 NWLR (Pt. 549) 265; Fadiora v. Gbadebo (1978) 3 SC 219 referred to] (Pp. 142-143, paras. H.F).