Toyin Dada should know the Law Condones no nuisance

Toyin Dada should know the Law Condones no nuisance

Toyin Dada is a Final Year Student of the Federal University of Technology, Akure who dislikes nuisance. Apart from being an excellent student of the Department of Agricultural Engineering, she is well known as an advocate for the rights of women and children.

Just a week before she resumed for her final academic session in the institution, she decided to get a befitting apartment for herself off-campus to minimize distraction. She needed the maximum concentration for her academics and particularly, her final year project.
Just about 4weeks after resumption, one of her Lecturers, Professor Babatunde Abiodun instructed them to prepare for a short test on the 31st day of May, 2016 as part of their continuous assessment. She reached an agreement with her friend, Jumoke that the latter will come to her house and both of them would study overnight for the test.
On the 30th day of May, 2016, both of them were already at the reading table when they decided to take garri before commencing their preparation. Meanwhile, Evangelist Folake Jolaoso had just established a church right behind Toyin’s apartment. At exactly 10pm that same day, they heard an announcement from the magic speakers hung on the Church roof just opposite Toyin’s window, “Praise the Lord! We are starting the vigil now! Let somebody shout Hallelujah!”. During the vigil, the noise from the speakers was to much for Toyin and Jumoke to study.

At a point, Jumoke couldn’t take it any longer and she screamed, “What is all these for God sake! So, someone cannot read in peace again?”.
Amidst these disturbances, they slept off and were woken up by the large sound of the megaphone used during the call to prayer by the mosque beside the apartment. “To read, problem. To sleep, wahala. And Toyin will be forming one activist, activist that cannot fight for herself”, Jumoke complained. Toyin has been since then been thinking about this nuisance and she requested that both the church and the mosque be sued.

Points to note:
1. In Law, nuisance is any conduct that interferes with the convenience and comfort of the public or any section of it. In other words, anything that unlawfully works hurt, inconvenience or damage is nuisance.
2. The purpose of the law of nuisance is that “one person should so use his property as not to injure his neighbours”.
3. There are two (2) types of nuisance as follows:
(i) Public nuisance
(ii) Private nuisance
4. A public nuisance is committed when a person carries out harmful activity which affects the general public or a section of it. For example, where an obstruction is cause on a public highway.
NB: Public nuisance is basically a crime and, generally, only the Attorney-General can sue for such.
5. An individual can only such for public nuisance if he can prove that the defendant’s conduct has caused him “particular damage” over and above that suffered by the general public. He must show he suffered damage which is different in kind, not merely in degree, from that suffered by the general public.
6. A good example of “particular damage” is where the defendant’s blocking of a public street interfered with the access of staff, parents and pupils to Savage Model School. In essence, apart from the general road blockage experienced by everyone, it is also causing low enrolment of students in the school.
7. Private nuisance, on the other hand, is an unlawful interference with a person’s use or enjoyment of land, or some right over, or in connection with it. For example, if the sewage water from your house is going into another person’s compound.
8. The aim of the law on private nuisance is to strike a balance between the right of one person to use his land as he wishes, and the right of the other person to be protected from interference with his enjoyment of land.
9. In order to strike this balance, two main requirements have been developed:
(i) The injury or interference complained of must be (a) sensible {in the case of material damage to land} (b) substantial {in the case of interference with the enjoyment of land}
(ii) The conduct of the defendant must be unreasonable in that circumstances.
10. Note that nuisance is one of the exceptions to the rule that malice is not relevant in tort law. For example, there was a case it was decided that the defendant was deliberately creating a noise in order to frustrate the claimants.
11. There are defences to nuisance such an “Act of God”. There is also the 20-year prescription rule, whereby if a private nuisance continues for 20 years, it becomes legal so long as the defendant can show it has been continuous and the claimant has been aware. Statutory authority is also a defence; if activity has been authorised by legislation, this defends it from causing a public or private nuisance.
12. Three remedies are possible when it comes to nuisance: (i)injunctions: an order to stop the nuisance.
(ii) damages: obviously money paid by the defendant to the claimant for the damage.
(iii)abatement: this allows the claimant to directly end the nuisance, such rebuilding a demolished fence.
From the Law, Toyin is complaining of public nuisance which can only be actionable by the Attorney-General except she can prove “particular damage”. You think her inability to read is the particular damage? There are some of other students in that area who studied during the noise and passed. If you’re Toyin? What “particular damage” would you say you’ve suffered?

Joseph Jagunmolu Ogunmodede

3 thoughts on “Toyin Dada should know the Law Condones no nuisance

  1. Considering that I was in Toyin’s shoes for some months while I was staying off-campus in my fourth year makes me sympathetic to Toyin’s cause. There was this church beside my house( sometimes it felt like the church was in my head ) where the only time they choose to do vigil is around 12:30am on every Monday. I am sure the Church does not have up to 30 members, yet, they will use a megaphone as if they have a congregation of about 10,000 members. The noise gets me angry and most of the time makes me grumpy in class. I remember thinking then that I ought to sue them for nuisance ( I still wonder why I never did!)

    I personally think that on the issue of particular damage her inability to read on its own might not suffice as particular damage. However, if Toyin can prove that her inability to read was as a result of a headache caused by the noise, she might have a good though not strong case. If she can further prove that though others in the area read despite the noise but she couldn’t because she has a known medical case of migraine which was intensified that night by the noise might make her case better. It would not be a defence for the church that the noise affected others but they were still able to read because of the eggshell skull rule.

    The rule provides that a tortfeasor is liable for all consequences resulting from his or her tortious activities leading to an injury to another person, even if the victim suffers an unusually high level of damage (e.g. due to a pre-existing vulnerability or medical condition). So the Church is expected to take their victim as they find her. The eggshell skull rule takes into account the physical, social and economic attributes of the plaintiff which might make him more susceptible to injury.

    In conclusion, it is my opinion that none of the execptions to the eggshell skull rule will avail the Church. this means that Toyin now has a strong case. With a medical proof that she is known to suffer from migraine, then Toyin is good to go.

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