C.K. Anyanwu Lawyer of Promise

Whether the provisions of Chapter IV of the Constitution is enforceable by artificial persons

It is a trite statement of the law that the rights provided by Chapter IV of the Constitution are enforceable by human persons and not artificial persons. 

Where officers of an artificial person are arrested and detained, enforcement of their fundamental right to freedom of movement can not be made by a Court for the artificial entity they serve under the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules even though their arrest and detention have affected the running of their artificial entity and no matter the magitude of financial and reputation loss. A Court of law can only make findings and decisions according to the law.


ISSUE: ENFORCEMENT OF FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT(S)-Whether the provisions of Chapter IV of the Constitution is enforceable by artificial persons                                   


"Issue 1 distilled from the said Ground 1 is about first Appellant. The Appellants' submitted that an artificial person is a persona-ficta (juristic personality) known to law, who can only act through agents or servants that are human beings, and when its agents, servants or officers are arrested and detained, it is also arrested and detained, and the direct consequence is loss of reputation and financial loss.

Furthermore, that by virtue of Section 46(1) of the Constitution (as amended) read with Section 18 of the Interpretation Act, Cap. 123 LFN 2004, Fundamental Rights enure to natural persons and artificial persons. See Onyekwuluje V. Benue State Government (2005) 8 NWLR (Pt. 928) 614. 

That since the second to fifth Appellants are key chief officers of the first Appellant, the natural implication of their incarceration was financial loss and loss of reputation to the Bank in Millions of Naira; that their personal liberty is a commodity of high value to it as they are its directing minds as first Appellant acts mainly through them - Odogu V. A-G, Federation (1996) 6 NWLR (Pt. 456) 508; therefore, such damages commensurate to their status should be awarded to it.

As it stands, the question that rears its head is whether a Bank, the first Appellant, can be physically arrested and detained by EFCC? The Appellants argued that it can be arrested and detained by proxy; that is since second to fifth Respondents who are key chief officers of the Bank, were arrested and detained, the Bank was also affected.

They contend that the implication of the incarceration of its key chief officers "was financial loss and loss of reputation" to the Bank. This line of argument, obviously, lacks merit. The first Appellant has every right to seek redress for "financial loss and loss of reputation", occasioned by the arrest and detention of its said key chief officers; but it cannot do so through the procedure provided by law under the Fundamental Human Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 1979; the applicable Rules in this matter, and not the present 2009 Rules.

So, any claims touching on violation of rights to personal liberty guaranteed by the Constitution, are usually made before the Courts under Fundamental Human Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, enacted specifically to govern or regulate actions for enforcement or the protection of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution-Jack V. University of Agriculture, Makurdi (2004) LPELR-1587(SC).

In this case, it is physically impossible for the first Appellant to be arrested and detained, and the Court of Appeal was standing on very firm ground when it refused to award damages to first Appellant for the unlawful arrest and detention of second to fifth Appellants. Issue 1 definitely lacks merit and it is resolved against the Appellants." Per AUGIE, JSC.(Pp.32-35,Paras.­E-A)

Post a Comment