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COURT EXERCISES JURISDICTION ONLY OVER THOSE WHO ARE WITHIN ITS TERRITORIAL JURISDICTION

Dictum

Courts exercise jurisdiction over persons who are within its territorial jurisdiction: Nwabueze vs. Obi-Okoye (1988) 10-11 SCNJ 60 at 73; Onyema vs. Oputa (1987) 18 NSCC (Pt. 2) 900; Ndaeyo vs. Ogunnaya (1977) 1 SC 11. Since the respondent was fully aware that before the issuance of the writ the appellant’s abode or residence for the past one year was no longer at No.189, Off R.B. Dikko Road, Asokoro, Abuja within jurisdiction, substituted service of the processes should not have been ordered by the learned trial Judge.

— J.T. Tur, JCA. Abdulkardir Abacha v Kurastic [2014] – CA/A/406/2010

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JURISDICTION CAN BE RAISED AT ANYTIME BY THE COURT

The law is well settled that the issue of jurisdiction is so fundamental to adjudication that it can be raised at any stage of the proceedings and even for the first time on appeal to this court. See Usman Dan Fodio University v. Kraus Thompson Ltd (2001) 15 NWLR (Pt. 736) 305; Elabanjo v. Dawodu (2006) All FWLR (Pt. 328) 604, (2006) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1001) 76 115-116 G-A ; PDP v. Okorocha (2012) All FWLR (Pt. 626) 449, (2012) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1323) 205. The issues are therefore competent before this court.

— Kekere-Ekun, JSC. Nyesom v. Peterside (SC.1002/2015 (REASONS), 12 Feb 2016)

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ISSUE OF STATUTE BARRED CHALLENGES COURT JURISDICTION

It is also well established that when a party raises the issue that an action is statute barred, he is no doubt challenging the competence of the Suit and the jurisdiction of the court to entertain it.

– Oseji, JCA. SIFAX v. MIGFO (2015)

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JURISDICTION OF COURT – JURISDICTION CAN BE RAISED AT ANY TIME

I have found that ground (1) is premised on the jurisdiction of the lower court. It is the law that even where a court of law does not pronounce whether it has jurisdiction to try a matter or not, once the establishing law or other statutes or the subject matter or party before the court has divested that court of jurisdiction, then jurisdiction does not reside in the court. The ground is properly taken by the appellant in this appeal as issue of jurisdiction can be raised at any level of the proceedings of a court even at appeal levels. See: Nigeria Eng. Works Ltd. v. Denap Ltd. (2001) 18 NWLR (Pt.746) 726.

— T. Muhammad, JSC. VAB Petroleum v. Momah (2013) – SC.99/2004

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ISSUES ON CONSTITUTION AND JURISDICTION SHOULD BE ADDRESSED AT EARLIEST OPPORTUNITY

It is crystal clear that the question involved in issue 2 for the determination of this court is entirely constitutional. A constitutional issue, like the question of jurisdiction, is not only fundamental but must be disposed of by the court as soon as it is raised to ensure that the proceedings in which it is raised is not rendered nugatory and null and void and that the Constitution which is the supreme law of the land is not breached. See Alhaji Rufai Agbaje and others v. Mrs. W.A. Adelekan and others (1990) 7 NWLR (Pt. 164) 595 at 614. It is in the interest of the best administration of justice that where the issue of jurisdiction or a constitutional issue is raised in any proceedings before any court, it should be dealt with at the earliest opportunity and before a consideration of any other issues raised in the proceedings as anything purportedly done without or in excess of jurisdiction or in breach of the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, by any court established under the said Constitution is a nullity and of no effect whatever. See On venta and others v. Oputa and others (1987) 3 NWLR (Pt.60) 259; (1987) 2 N.S.C.C. 900; Attorney General of the Federation and others v. Sode and other (1990) 1 NWLR (Pt. 128) 500; (1990) I N.S.C.C. 271; Tukur v. Government of Gongola State (1989) 4 NWLR (Pt. 117) 517 at 545 etc. Accordingly, I will proceed firstly to examine issue 2 which raises a grave constitutional question in this appeal.

— Iguh JSC. Onuoha v State (1998) – SC. 24/1996

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TRIAL COURT JURISDICTION DETERMINES COURT OF APPEAL’S JURISDICTION

In APGA V. ANYANWU (2014) 7 NWLR (PT 1407) 541 at 567-568, this Court held as follows:- “The jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal to entertain an appeal is dependent upon the jurisdiction of the trial Court to hear and determine the suit before it in the first instance. Where the trial Court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the case, its proceedings are a nullity and the Court of Appeal would not have the jurisdiction to entertain an appeal arising therefrom. An appeal from proceedings initiated conducted without jurisdiction will be liable to be struck out for want of jurisdiction.”

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WHEN CAN IT BE SAID THAT A COURT HAS JURISDICTION TO HEAR A CASE

It is now settled law that jurisdiction is the life blood of adjudication in that any decision by a Court that lacks jurisdiction to hear and determine a matter is a nullity no matter how well conducted see Madukolu vs Nkemdilim 1962 NSCC 374 at 379-380. When can it be said that a Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine a case? As stated earlier, the Supreme Court in the above cited case decided that for a Court to have the requisite jurisdiction to hear a matter: (a) the Court must be properly constituted as regard numbers and qualifications of members of the bench, and no member is disqualified for one reason or another; (b) the subject matter of the case is within the jurisdiction of the Court and there is no feature in the case that prevents the Court from exercising its jurisdiction; and (c) the case comes before the Court initiated by due process of the law, and upon fulfilment of any condition precedent to the exercise of jurisdiction.

— Onnoghen, CJN. Nwachukwu v Nwachukwu (2018) – SC.601/2013

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