Judiciary-Poetry-Logo
JPoetry

COURT HAS JURISDICTION TO DETERMINE IF IT HAS JURISDICTION

Dictum

Before a court finally determines a case pending, it is seised with jurisdiction to determine whether or not it has jurisdiction, but once the court has declined jurisdiction it is functus officio – such a decision can only be referred to an appellate court.

— O.O. Adekeye, JCA. Omotunde v. Omotunde (2000) – CA/I/M.57/2000

Was this dictum helpful?

SHARE ON

JUDGE SHOULD NOT MAKE PRONOUNCEMENTS ON THE CASE AFTER STRIKING OUT FOR WANT OF JURISDICTION

It is my judgment that the Judge was wrong in dismissing the suit rather than striking it out when he held that he had no jurisdiction. The court was not just wrong, I dare say that the court abdicated a constitutional obligation or duty. In any case, the law is that even where a court finds that it had no jurisdiction he has no business making any other order or proceeding further other than to do his only duty, which is to strike out the matter or case: Obi v. I.N.E.C. (2007) All FWLR (Pt. 378) 1116, (2007) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1046) 565. Also the case of John Egbele v. The Post Master General (unreported decision of this court in CA/L/585/05 delivered on 10 November 2010) wherein this court, per Mukhtar JCA in his lead judgment said at page 10 thus: “The court below having rightly held that it lacked jurisdiction in the matter, ought to have simply struck out the matter as it lacked the competence to decide any other issue. The further pronouncement by the court that the suit was statute-barred was null and void and same is hereby struck out” In Okotie-Eboh v. Manager (2005) 123 LRCN 256, (2005) All FWLR (Pt. 241) 277, the Supreme Court also made it clear, per Edozie JSC at page 288, paragraph K of the report that the superfluous pronouncement made after a finding that the court had no jurisdiction was academic as courts of law are not academic institutions. I must say that it is for this same reason that I had in the decision of this court in Egbele v. The Post Master General said in my contribution as follows: “it is in the same reasoning that I hold that challenge raised in ground No. 2 of the appeal – bordering as it were on the limitation of action, has no merit as the High Court of a State including that of Lagos State has no jurisdiction to proceed to pronounce on the incompetence of the suit for being statute-barred after it had found … That it lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate the matter.”

— Danjuma, JCA. Tony Anthony Nig. Ltd & Ors. v. NDIC (CA/L/630/2009 • 25 January 2011)

Was this dictum helpful?

ISSUE OF JURISDICTION CAN ONLY BE RAISED AT THE ARBITRATION PANEL

The law therefore is that although in the regular Courts, the issue of jurisdiction can be raised at all stages of the proceedings of a case; from the trial to the final appellate, where a statute prescribed the stage at which the issue is to be raised in the course of the proceedings of a case, the issue cannot be validly and properly raised at any other stage other than the one stipulated in the statute. The general principle applies only where there was no statutory provision as to the particular or specific stage of the proceedings of a case at which the issue of jurisdiction is to be raised by a party.

– Garba, JCA. Dunlop v. Gaslink (2018)

Was this dictum helpful?

ILLEGALITY OF A CONTRACT IMPACTS THE JURISDICTION OF A COURT

Illegality of a contract or transaction, whenever it is raised as a defence to a claim founded on the said transaction, impacts on the jurisdiction of the court. When the contract on which the plaintiff sues is ex facie illegal, the courts will decline to enforce it for the courts exercise their jurisdiction only to administer the law of the land. They do not exercise their jurisdiction to help the Plaintiff break the law. See GEORGE & ORS v. DOMINION FLOUR MILLS LTD (1963) 1 ALL NLR 71; IBRAHIM v. OSIM (1988) NWLR 257; BARCLAYS BANK D.O.C. v, MEMUNATU HASSAN (1961) ALL NLR 836.

— E. Eko, JSC. CITEC v. Edicomisa (2017) – SC. 163 2006

Was this dictum helpful?

NO JURISDICTION, COURT CANNOT DECIDE

It is a cardinal principle of law that jurisdiction is fundamental to the determination of a suit, as unless a court is competent, it cannot exercise jurisdiction over a suit to the extent of deciding on it.

– Mukhtar JSC. Goodwill v. Witt (2011) – SC. 266/2005

Was this dictum helpful?

JURISDICTION OF THE COURT IS DETERMINED BY CAUSE OF ACTION

The jurisdiction of the court is determined by the cause of action of the plaintiff as endorsed on the writ of summons or from both the writ of summons and the statement of claim. Where however, an action is commenced by Originating summons then it is the reliefs sought as well as the averments in the affidavit in support of the originating process that would be examined to discern if the court has jurisdiction. These would be relied on if the facts placed before the court as contained in the statement of claim or the affidavit in the case of originating summons are clear and unambiguous to enable it determine the issue. This is because it is the plaintiff who invokes the constitutional right for a determination of his right and accordingly the exercise of the judicial powers of the Constitution vested in the courts. See: A-G., Oyo State v. NLC (2003) 8 NWLR (Pt. 821) page 1; Akande & 2 Ors. v. Busari Alagbe & Anor, (2001) FWLR (Pt. 38) page 1352, (2000) 15 NWLR (Pt.690) 353; A.-G., Federation v. Guardian Newspaper Ltd. & 5 Ors. (2001) FWLR (Pt. 32) page 93, (1999) 9 NWLR (Pt. 618) 187; Messrs N. V. Scheep & Anor. v. The MV’s Araz & Anor. (2000) FWLR (Pt 34) page 556, (2000) 15 NWLR (Pt. 691) 622; NEPA v. Atukpor (2001) FWLR (Pt. 20) page 626, (2000) 1 NWLR (Pt. 693) 96; General Sani Abacha & 3 Ors. v. Chief Gani Fawehinmi (2000) FWLR (Pt. 4) page 557, (2000) 6 NWLR (Pt. 660) 228; Okulate & 4 Ors. v. Awosanya & 2 Ors. (2000) 2 NWLR (Pt. 646) page 530-6.

— Aboki, JCA. Action Congress v INEC (2007) – CA/A/101/07

Was this dictum helpful?

NO JURISDICTION MAKES THE PROCEEDING A NULLITY

The Law is well settled that where a court has no jurisdiction to entertain any claim, anything done in respect of the claim will be an exercise in futility. In the celebrated case on the subject of jurisdiction and competence of court of Madukolu & others v Nkemdilim & others (1962) 2 SCNLR 342; (1962) NSCC 374; (1962) 1 All NLR 587; Bairamian, F.J. stated the law at page 595 as follows:- “Before discussing those portions of the record, I shall make some observations on jurisdiction and the competence of a court. Put it briefly, a court is competent when:- (1) it is properly constituted as regards members and qualification of the members of the bench and no member is disqualified for one reason or another; and (2) the subject matter of the case is within its jurisdiction, and there is no feature of the case which prevents the court from exercising its jurisdiction; and (3) the case comes before the court initiated by due process of law, and upon fulfilment of any condition precedent to the exercise of jurisdiction.” Once there is a defect in competence, it is fatal as the proceedings are a nullity. See Ojo-Ajao & others v Popoola Ajao & others (1986) 5 NWLR (Part 45) 802 and Attorney-General Anambra State v Attorney-General of the Federation (1993) 6 NWLR (Part 302) 692. — Mohammed JSC. AG Kano State v AG Federation (2007) – SC 26/2006

Was this dictum helpful?

No more related dictum to show.