From the Court

Brief court decisions on civil wrongs by Safi Jimba

General Principle of Liability (IV)

The case for the defendants was that the lines were constructed in pursuance of a statutory authority imposed upon them, and that the route of the lines had been approved by the town planning authority. They counterclaimed, asking for an order to compel the plaintiff to demolish the rear portion of his house and for an injunction to restrain him from erecting any additions to the said portion of the house.

It was proved by evidence that the transmission lines were so dangerously close to the rear portion of the house as to constitute a nuisance unless there was statutory authority to justify their construction.

Held: (1) That where a statute has authorised the doings of a particular act which would inevitably involve a nuisance, all remedy, whether by indictment or by action for damage resulting there from, is taken away, provided that every reasonable precaution consistent with the exercise of the statutory powers has been taken to prevent the nuisance from occurring, but that the burden of proving that a nuisance was inevitable lies on the person having statutory authority, and that it is discharged by showing that all reasonable  care and skill according to the state of scientific  knowledge at the time has been taken; and also that  authority to commit a nuisance must be expressed or necessarily implied and the power must not be exercised negligently or unreasonably. (Clerk & Lindsell, Torts, 11th ed., pp.604-606.)

  1. That section 16(1) (b), Electricity Corporation of Nigeria Ordinance, Cap. 58, imposed upon the defendants, a duty  to establish. manage and work  such electricity undertaking as they deemed it expedient  to establish in the public interest, that the transmission lines which passed over the plaintiff’s house were constructed  to serve the public interest, and that furthermore the construction was undertaken under the powers conferred upon the defendants by section 16(2) (b) of the Ordinance.
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