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IT IS PARAMOUNT TO DECIDE ISSUE OF JURISDICTION FIRST

Dictum

The issue of jurisdiction is the bedrock of adjudication by a Court of law and as such, it is basically considered expedient to resolve same before proceeding to consider the main issues presented to the Court for adjudication on the merit. It goes without saying that the determination of a suit by a Court is null and void if done without jurisdiction notwithstanding how well or proper the proceeding was conducted. The jurisdiction of a Court to entertain a matter is therefore fundamental to the extent that if a Court has no jurisdiction to hear and determine a case, the proceedings is a nullity ab initio. See Madukolu v. Nkemdilim (1962) 2 SCNLR 341; A.G. Lagos State v. Dosunmu (1989) 6 SC (Pt. II) page 1; A.G. Rivers State v. A.G. Akwa Ibom State (2011) 8 NWLR (Pt. 1248) 31; Ajao v. Alao (1986) 5 NWLR (Pt. 45) 802; Galadima v. Tambai (2000) 6 SCNJ 190.

— S.C. Oseji, JCA. Access Bank v Edo State BIR (2018) – CA/B/333/2015

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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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JURISDICTION CAN BE RAISED AT ANYTIME NOT APPLICABLE TO ARBITRATION

For instance, the general position of the law that the issue of jurisdiction of a Court can be raised at any stage of the proceedings of a case, even for the first time at the appellate stage, is not applicable to arbitral proceedings before an arbitral Tribunal because the Act, in Section 12(3) has provided the stage at which a challenge to the jurisdiction of the arbitral Tribunal is to or may be raised by a party.

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

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

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 OF COURT CANNOT BE GIVEN BY RULES OF COURT

The law is settled that the jurisdiction of a Court of record, in its broad and substantive sense, cannot be conferred by the Rules of Court. The Rules of Court are only made, pursuant to the powers conferred on the heads of Courts by the Constitution to make Rules, to regulate practice and procedure in their respective Courts. The Rules they make are only to regulate the practice and procedure in their respective Courts. The Rules do not confer jurisdiction on the Court to entertain causes or matters. Rather, the jurisdiction of Courts in Nigeria is either conferred or vested by the Constitution or the enabling statute establishing the Court.

– E. Eko JSC. Mailantarki v. Tongo (2017) – SC.792/2015

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JURISDICTION OF NIGERIAN COURTS

It is trite law that jurisdiction is the life wire of any case. The jurisdiction of a Court is the authority which the Court has to decide matters that are litigated before it. See RAHMAN BROTHERS LTD v. NPA (2019) LPELR-46415 (SC), NWANZE v. NRC (2022) LPELR 59631 (SC), BANK OF INDUSTRY LTD. v. OBEYA (2021) LPELR 56881 (SC). The jurisdiction of the Court in Nigeria is inherent and is bestowed upon it by Section 6 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as altered) (hereinafter referred to as 1999 CFRN). Under Section 6(6) of the 1999 CFRN, the judicial powers of the Court extends to all matters between government or authority and to any persons in Nigeria, and to all actions and proceedings relating thereto, for the determination of any question as to the civil rights and obligations of that person.

— H.M. Ogunwumiju, JSC. UBA v Triedent Consulting Ltd. (SC.CV/405/2013, July 07, 2023)

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