Nigerian cases on Necessary & Proper Parties
Below are some Nigerian court holdings on or about Necessary and Proper parties. A necessary party, in law, is different from a proper party.
Classification of parties
Dapialong v. Lalong (2007) 5 NWLR (Pt. 1026) 199
Parties to an action have been classified into three namely: (a)proper parties; (b)desirable parties; and (c)necessary parties. Proper parties are those who, though not interested in the plaintiff’s claims are made parties for somegood reasons, and desirable parties are those who have an interest or who may be a affected by the result, while necessary parties are those who are not only interested in the subject matter of the proceedings but also who in their absence, the proceedings could not be fairly dealt with.
Who is a Necessary party?
N.B.A. v. Kehinde (2017) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1576) 225
A necessary party is one who should be bound by the result and the question to be settled. Therefore, there must be a question in the action which cannot be effectually and completely settled unless he is a party. Thus, the only parties that must be present ina matter are necessary parties. In the instant case, the person who was doing the act complained of is the Nigerian Bar Association. If the court decided in favour of the respondent, the party that would be bound is the Nigerian Bar Association. Every other body or persons involved were at best, desirable parties or necessary witnesses.
OHWAVBORUA & ORS v. PDP & ORS (2013) LPELR-20872(CA)
“For the applicant to be a necessary party, he must show that the subject matter or cause of action between the existing parties is such that cannot be properly settled unless he is made a party. In Okoli v. Ejiakor supra, this Court was enjoined to ask the following questions: 1. Is the suit likely to be defeated by the non-joinder of the party? 2. Is it not possible for the Court to determine the live issues in the litigation without joining the party? 3. Will the party seeking to be joined suffer injustice if he is not joined?” – Per HELEN MORONKEJI OGUNWUMIJU, JCA
Who is a Proper Party?
PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY v. ALH. IBRAHIM ALI AMIN & ANOR (2019)LCN/13140(CA)
The Apex Court in Green v. Green (1987) NWLR (Pt. 61) 481 drew the distinction between persons who are proper parties, desirable parties. The Court went on to hold that:
Proper parties are those who, though not interested in the plaintiffs claim, are made parties for some good reasons e.g where an action is brought to rescind a contract, any person is a proper party to it who was active or concurring in the matters which gave the plaintiff the right to rescind. Desirable those who have an interest or who may be affected by the result.
Necessary parties are those who are not interested in the subject matter of the proceedings but also who in their absence, the proceedings could not be fairly dealt with. In other words the question to be settled in the action between the existing parties must be a question which cannot be properly settled unless they are parties to the action instituted by the plaintiff.
Words underlined for emphasis.
I want to believe that a resort to claim or reliefs sought by the plaintiff or claimant becomes inevitable if only to determine whether or not a person is necessary party to the suit. I have earlier alluded to some of the reliefs sought by the 1st respondent in the action. There is no question, looking at relief Nos 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 including the 2 (two) reliefs sought in the alternative, all have bearing on the person whose name was submitted to the 2nd respondent as the candidate of the PDP. That is to say if the reliefs or claim will affect him in one way or the other the candidature of Abba K. Yusuf, the person whose name was submitted to INEC as the candidate of the PDP in the Governorship election, he is a necessary party and I submit affirmatively, that given the reliefs aforementioned, which do not only have bearing on the person of Abba K. Yusuf but affect his candidature, as the nominee of the party, no decision can fairly and effectively be taken behind his back, who is affected by the result.” – Per SAIDU TANKO HUSSAINI, JCA
Effect of a judgment given without joining necessary/proper parties
AZUBUIKE v. PDP & ORS (2014) LPELR-22258(SC)
“a necessary party should be allowed to have his fate in his own hands. He should not be shut out to watch through the window. Judgment made with an order against a person who was not a party to a suit is to no avail. It cannot be allowed to stand. See: Uku v. Okumagba (supra).” Per JOHN AFOLABI FABIYI, JSC
Dapialong v. Lalong (2007) (Ibid)
An action cannot be rendered incompetent simply because all the necessary parties have not been joined in the suit. It suffices if the parties before the court are competent parties and the cause of action, if substantiated by the plaintiff, entitles him to a remedy against the defendant. In the instant case, the reliefs sought by the respondents could be determined between the parties to the suit without joinder of other parties. In the circumstance, the trial court was right when it held that the parties to the suit were the necessary parties, and assumed jurisdiction to determine the suit.
Importance of Identifying Proper Parties
TRANSMISSION COMPANY OF NIGERIA P.H.C.N V ADAMAWA STATE BOARD OF INTERNAL REVENUE (2020) Legalpedia (CA) 01819
“For a suit to succeed the proper parties against whom rights and obligations arising from the cause of action must be properly identified. In Ehidimhen v. Musa (2000) FWLR (Pt. 21) 930 at 962 Para E-H the Apex Court held:-
It is imperative that for an action to succeed, the parties must be shown to be the proper parties to whom rights and obligations arising from the cause of action attach…..”
“As I earlier stated in this Judgment NELMCO was specifically created to assume the assets and liabilities of the defunct PHCN with a view to ensuring that all rights and claims against PHCN are settled by NELMCO. The case as constituted and determined by the lower Court without NELMCO was improperly constituted and thus incompetent. In the case of Alhaji Lawan Sarkin Tsaha v. Union Bank of Nigeria Plc. (2002) FWLR (Pt. 97) 765 at 771 Para E-F the Supreme Court Held that:-
There can be no argument that the action was improperly constituted. The parties ought to have been the Respondent Bank and the Board. Not having been properly constituted, the suit was incompetent. I therefore allow this appeal on that issue alone and set aside the Judgment of the lower Court.”