Media Worth implores the court to dismiss JC Decaux‘s preliminary objection to N1bn suit

A Nigerian outdoor advertising firm, Media Worth has asked a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, to dismiss the preliminary objection filed by an acclaimed world’s biggest advertising firm, JC Decaux Nigeria Outdoor Advertising Limited against its N1bn suit.

Media Worth had sued JC Decaux, to seek redress for alleged usurpation of its approved billboard site by JC Decaux.

In the suit, MediaWorth is asking the court to award it a whopping N1 billion as damages for the alleged infringement on its billboard site by JC Decaux.

Joined in the suit along JC Decaux are the Federal Ministry of Works and Lagos State Signage & Advertising Agency, LASAA, as 1st and 2nd defendants respectively.

Mediaworth had in its statement of claims stated that the illegal incursion of JC Decaux, a French multinational agency, on its space has caused disruption on its operations, resulting to loss of businesses.

The Nigerian outdoor company also blamed JC Decaux’s incursion for its recent decision to disengage 22 members of its staff, as it could no longer meet up with overhead expenses in the face of dwindling revenue.

Responding to the suit, JC Decaux then filed a Notice of Preliminary Objection against the N1 billion suit filed by Media Worth, asking the court to strike out the suit in its entirety.

Arguing the application at the resumed hearing of the matter before Justice Saliu Seidu last Wednesday, JC Decaux’s counsel, Farida Alli told the court that the act of LASAA by revoking the approval granted to Media Worth ought to have been challenged within three months when the revocation was purportedly done.

The counsel also argued that the Public Officers Protection Law covers the action of LASAA.

However, Media Worth through its counsel, Bolu Agbaje-Akadri, asked the court to summarily dismiss JC Decaux’s objection with substantial cost on the ground that that JC Decaux, which is the 3rd defendant in the suit and the beneficiary of the abuse of power perpetrated by the 2nd defendant, LASAA, is not competent in law to present the objection.

Mr. Agbaje-Akadri argued that JC Decaux’s Notice of Preliminary Objection amounts to crying more than the bereaved.

According to Agbaje-Akadri, the law is trite that Public Officers (Protection) Act or Law is a protection afforded Public Officers engaged in the execution of public duties who at all material times acted within the confines of their public duties.

He argued that where a public officer acted outside the colour of his office, a person who has been affected by the act of such public officer is at liberty to institute the action even after the expiration of the limitation period.

Agbaje-Akadri submitted that the 2nd defendant, LASAA, is not entitled to the protection of Public Officers Act or Law as the case may be, adding that by virtue of Federal Highway Act, Cap F13, F265, LFN, 2004, the Oworonsoki end of Third Mainland Bridge falls exclusively within the jurisdiction of the 1st defendant (Federal Ministry of Works).

He noted that it is not in doubt as evidenced by the 1st defendant clear admission in Exhibit A that the approval granted to the plaintiff over Oworonshoki end of Third Mainland Bridge subsists.

“Also, it is apparent from the clear admission of the 3rd defendant in Exhibit 1 that the award of Oworonshoki end of Third Mainland Bridge to the 3rd defendant was done exclusively by the 2nd defendant without recourse to the 1st defendant and during the subsistence of the plaintiff’s approval over the location.”

“Therefore and in view of these obvious facts, can the 2nd defendant be said to be acting within the scope of its statutory duty when it decided to award to the 3rd defendant what it does not have the power both in law and in fact to award? We have no hesitation in answering the question in the negative. Our view is further forfeited by Supreme Court decision in the case of Hassan v Aliyu (2010) 17 NWLR (pt. 1223) at page 51, particularly at paragraphs B-D where the Supreme Court stated emphatically that: “Where a public officer acts outside the scope of his authority or without a semblance of legal justification, he cannot claim the protection of the provisions of the Public Officers Protection Act…,” he tendered.

Going further, he argued: “On this score alone, My Lord, we urge the court to hold that the 2nd defendant cannot be said to be acting within the colour of its power when it threw caution to the wind and acted outside the scope of its power by doing that which it has no power to do both in fact and in law.”

“Therefore, it is not entitled to the protection provided by Section 2(a) of the Public Officers Protection Act which is impair material with the provision of Public Officer Protection Law of Lagos State. And we urge the court to dismiss the 3rd defendant’s Notice of Preliminary objection with substantial cost.”

Justice Seidu has, however, fixed July 1, 2019 for ruling on the applications.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    No comments found.