LIABILITY OF STATE AGENCIES AND PUBLIC OFFICERS VIS-A-VIS SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY AND LIMITATION OF ACTIONS UNDER NIGERIAN LAW
For a long time under the common law the crown enjoyed absolute immunity against any legal proceedings. This principle originated from the philosophy of “Rex non potest pecans,” which literally means “the king can do no wrong” and this had a justification under the principle of “divine Rights of the king.” However, with the movement from the “lessie faire” philosophy of government to welfarism, it became necessary for the state to intervene frequently in the lives of the citizens. This created the ground for making inroad into crown immunity. From 1946, the Federal Tort Claims Act came into force in the United States of America and in 1947. the Crown Proceedings Act followed suit in Britain. Both legislations abolished the immunity of the State/Crown from legal proceedings instituted by citizens. Consequently, at about the same time in Nigeria the doctrine of sovereign immunity was firmly in forced, thereby making the sovereign non-liable, even for the wrongs of its servants, both tortuously and contractually. This research examined the background and development of these immunities, protections and their exceptions in Britain. United States and Nigeria. The study attempt to determine the scope of the statutory immunity and procedural defenses under statures of limitation in Nigeria, especially against the background of the 1970 and 1999 Constitutions and other relevant statutes.