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HOW TO FILE A PRELIMINARY OBJECTION

Dictum

In response to the submissions of the learned counsel to the Appellant, the learned counsel to the Respondent in his brief of argument, argued at length what he termed a preliminary objection. It is noted that it was not headed as such and there was no Notice of the preliminary objection filed with the grounds upon which it was brought. It was argued as a preliminary point/preliminary objection under the background facts. When the appeal was argued the learned counsel to the Respondent did not argue the supposed preliminary objection before the main appeal was argued. No wonder then that the learned counsel to the Appellant did not respond to it but, only responded to the substantive appeal. It is taken that the supposed preliminary objection was abandoned by the learned counsel to the Respondent. The Court of Appeal Rules, 2016 outlined the mode of raising a preliminary objection on appeal in Order 10 Rule (1) thus: 10:(1) “A respondent intending to rely upon a preliminary objection to the hearing of the appeal, shall give the Appellant three clear days’ notice thereof before the hearing, setting out the grounds of objection, and shall file such notice together with twenty copies thereof with the registry within the same time.” The requirements for reliance on a preliminary objection to the hearing of an appeal as provided for by Order 10 Rule (1) are three fold. These are: (1) Three clear days’ notice must be given by the Appellant before the hearing of the appeal. (2) The grounds of the objection must be clearly set out in the preliminary objection. (3) Twenty copies of the preliminary objection shall be filed with the Registrar within the same time. The Respondent did not comply with any of the requirements. No doubt, a Notice of objection can be given in the brief of argument, it does not dispense with the need for the Respondent to move the court at the hearing for the reliefs prayed for. Where a preliminary objection to an appeal is set out in the brief of argument, the Respondent cannot merely adopt his brief of argument in respect of the preliminary objection; which is what the learned counsel to the Respondent did in this case when the appeal was argued. Learned counsel is required to proffer oral argument in support of the grounds which are incorporated in the preliminary objection. The Notice of preliminary objection can be given in the Respondent’s brief, but, learned counsel must ask the court for leave to move the Notice of objection before the oral hearing of the appeal commences, otherwise it would be deemed to have been waived and therefore abandoned. The Respondent clearly failed to comply with the Rules of this court in raising and arguing a preliminary objection challenging the competence of this appeal.

— C.N. Uwa, JCA. FRN v Ozekhome (2021) – CA/L/174/19

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INCLUDING NOTICE OF PRELIMINARY OBJECTION IN BRIEF

‘Thus, a respondent who has any application to make in respect of a pending appeal, can without the leave of this court, raise the objection in a Respondents’ notice in his brief of argument, and proffer argument in support of the objection, in his brief of argument, without necessarily filing a Notice of Preliminary objection, formally. The essence of indicating in the respondents’ brief of argument, a notice of Preliminary objection is to enable the appellant to respond to it in a Reply brief of argument, upon the service of the respondents’ brief of argument on the appellant. The supreme court in Charles Chikwendu Odedo v. Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) (2008) 7 SCNJ 1 at pg.25, provided a guide as to how a preliminary objection can be raised in a brief of argument. It is to be raised under a conspicuous title or heading of “PRELIMINARY OBJECTION” followed by the grounds of the objection and supported with the argument thereon. Further see. Chief Emmanuel Osita Okereke v. Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Ors (2008) 5 SCNJ 1; Ralph Uwazurike v. Attorney General of the Federation (2007) 2 SCNJ 369 at P.380; Ajide v. Kelani (1985) 3 NWLR (Pt. 12) 248. I have perused the Respondents’ briefs of argument dated 14th March, 2011 and at page 3: paragraph 3.00, the NOTICE OF PRELIMINARY OBJECTION was conspicuously given therein; the grounds for the objection were also stated and thereafter the arguments on the preliminary objection were proffered by learned to the respondents. I am therefore satisfied that the notice of preliminary objection, by the respondents, is competent and I shall proceed to consider and determine it.’

— T.S. YAKUBU, JCA. Fayose v ICN (2012) – CA/AE/58/2010

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WHERE NO AFFIDAVIT SUPPORTS PRELIMINARY OBJECTION

The defendant in filing its preliminary objection did not file any affidavit in support, which effectively made its preliminary objection one of law.

— B.B. Kanyip J. FG v. ASUU (2023) – NICN/ABJ/270/2022

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FILING A PRELIMINARY OBJECTION – WHAT TO DO?

All that a Respondent intending to rely upon a preliminary objection challenging the hearing of an appeal on the ground that it is incompetent need do is to file a notice of preliminary objection giving notice of the ground of objection to the Appellant and incorporating the arguments thereon in the Respondent’s brief to afford the Appellant the opportunity of responding to the arguments in his reply brief.

— B.A. Georgewill, JCA. University of Lagos v. Mbaso (2018) – CA/L/775/2016

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WHAT IS A PRELIMINARY OBJECTION?

A Preliminary Objection as a matter of law is a process or procedure via which a party to an action may truncate the proceedings therein on account of a fundamental defect in the way the matter is constituted, which renders the taking of further action in the proceedings a meaningless waste of time and effort.

– Tukur JCA. Odulate v. FBN (2019)

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PRELIMINARY OBJECTION IN RESPONDENT’S BRIEF

These days, preliminary objections are argued in the respondent’s brief thereby obviating the need to file a separate Notice of Preliminary Objection, and to save time. Absence of the required Notice makes the Preliminary objection incompetent. – Rhodes-Vivour JSC. Nwaolisah v. Nwabufoh (2011)

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WHERE A PRELIMINARY OBJECTION SUCCEEDS, NO NEED TO CONSIDER THE ISSUE ON MERIT

I have had the benefit of a preview of the lead Ruling of my lord, S. D. BAGE, JCA, and I must stress that it is well settled that where a preliminary objection succeeds, there will be no need to consider the arguments in support of the issue or issues for determination.

— M.A. Danjuma, JCA. Portland Paints v Olaghere (2012) – CA/L/1046M/11

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