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

Dictum

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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PURPOSE OF A PRELIMINARY OBJECTION

A preliminary objection is the procedure adopted where a respondent objects to the hearing of an appeal. Its purpose is to terminate the appeal in limine.

– PER M.L. SHUAIBU, J.C.A. Cross & Star v. Government of Cross River State (2022)

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IT IS A FUNDAMENTAL BREACH NOT TO DETERMINE A PRELIMINARY OBJECTION

per Rhodes-Vivour JSC in Isaac Obiuweubi v Central Bank (2011) 7 NWLR Part 1247 Page 465 at 494 Para D-F, and cited with approval in James v INEC Supra, “Any failure by the Court to determine any preliminary objection or any form of challenge to its jurisdiction is a fundamental breach which renders further steps taken in the proceedings a nullity”.

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WHEN TO FILE A MOTION ON NOTICE VS PRELIMINARY OBJECTION

In law therefore, it is only when a Respondent is challenging the one or more grounds of appeal but not the entire appeal that resort must be had to motion by notice to strike out the incompetent ground(s) of appeal. However, where it is the competence of the entire appeal that is being challenged the proper method is by means of a notice of preliminary objection as rightly employed by the Respondent in this appeal. The Respondent’s notice of preliminary objection was filed on 23/2/2017, that way beyond the three clear days requirement of the rules of this Court, was served and duly responded to by the Appellant in their Appellants’ Reply brief and therefore, the contention by the Appellants’ counsel in this regards is misconceived and hereby discountenanced. I shall say no more! See Clement Odunukwe v. Dennis Ofomata(2010) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1225) 404 per Rhodes-Vivour, JSC. See also Ndigwe v. Nwude (1999) 11 NWLR (Pt. 626) 314; NEPA v. Ango (2001) 15 NWLR (Pt. 737) 627; Muhammed v. Military Administrator of Plateau State (2001) 16 NWLR (Pt. 740) 524; NDIC v. Oranu (2001) 18 NWLR (Pt. 744) 183.

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

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IF PRELIMINARY OBJECTION IS SUSTAINED, APPEAL COURT MAY PRONOUNCE ON THE OTHER ISSUES

This finding on the objection by the Respondent would appear to have taken out the bottom or foundation of the appeal, the grounds of which are predicated on the motion which was statute barred and incompetent. However, bearing in mind that the decision of the Court is subject to a further appeal and the exhortation that the Court even in situations such in this appeal, should make pronouncement on the other issues raised in the appeal, I would consider the other issues.

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

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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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AFFIDAVIT SHOULD BE FILED WHERE THERE ARE ISSUES OF FACTS IN PRELIMINARY OBJECTION

Grounds (v), (vi) and (vii) of the preliminary objection themselves raise issues of facts, at best issues of mixed law and facts, for which the defendant ought to have filed a supporting affidavit. The defendant did not. Grounds (v), (vi) and (vii) are respectively stated to be thus: (v) The Plaintiffs’ Suit does not disclose a reasonable cause of action against the Defendants. (vi) The Plaintiffs’ Suit is lacking in bona fide, as it was filed to harass, irritate and embarrass the Defendant, which constitutes an abuse of judicial process. (vii) The ministers (sic) Referral offends the twin pillar of Justice – nemo judex in causa sua and audi alterem partem. These are not grounds that can be resolved without the facts upon which they are based — facts that ought to come by way of an affidavit from the defendant.

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

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