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A PRELIMINARY OBJECTION RENDERS FURTHER PROCEEDINGS UNNECESSARY

Dictum

A Preliminary Objection is an objection that if upheld, would render further proceedings before a Court impossible or unnecessary – Black’s Law Dictionary, 9th Ed. See also Akpan V. Bob (2010) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1223) 421, wherein this held – An objection in law portrays a formal opposition of an objector against the happenings of an event which has already taken place or is about to take place now or in the future and the objector seeks the Court’s immediate ruling or intervention on the point. A Preliminary Objection seeks to provide an initial objection before the actual commencement of the thing being objected to.

— A.A. Augie, JSC. Universal Properties v. Pinnacle Comm. Bank, NJA, Opia, Heritage, Fatogun (SC.332/2008, Friday, April 08, 2022)

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COURT IS OBLIGED TO CONSIDER PRELIMINARY OBJECTIONS AS FAILURE AMOUNTS TO DENIAL OF FAIR HEARING

It is glaring that the Tribunal lumped several preliminary objections together, without considering each of them and the issues raised in each, dismissed them. The exact text of its decision reads thusly – “the several preliminary objections to the competence of the 1st petitioner as a candidate in the election and the jurisdiction of this Tribunal to determine the said petition are hereby dismissed.” This amounts to sweeping aside the objections without hearing or determining them. The dismissal of the objections did not proceed from the determination of any of the objections. It violates the fair trial of the objections and the entire petition and the right of the parties to fair hearing. This feature renders Tribunal’s judgment a nullity.

— E.A. Agim, JSC. Oyetola v INEC & Ors. (2022) – SC/CV/508/2023

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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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WHEN CHALLENGING ALL GROUNDS OF APPEAL, USE PRELIMINARY OBJECTION

HEYDEN PETROLEUM LIMITED v. TOP LEADER SHIPPING INC (2018) LPELR-46680 (CA) stated: “A preliminary objection that an appeal should not be heard and determined on the merit is a serious issue and if founded on grounds alleging incompetence of the appeal it should be taken seriously and considered and resolved one way or the other since without competence there is really no basis for adjudication and decision on the merit by a Court. Thus an issue bordering on the competence or incompetence of the entire grounds of appeal in an appeal is one which can validly be raised by means of a notice of preliminary objection and not by way of motion of notice.”

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WHEN TO USE A PRELIMINARY OBJECTION OR A MOTION ON NOTICE

In BANK OF INDUSTRY LTD v. AWOJUGBAGBE LIGHT INDUSTRIES LTD (2018) LPELR-43812(SC), page 7 para. B-D, per Rhodes-Vivour JSC, reiterated the above principle of law thus: “This Preliminary Objection is against the hearing of this suit. In Isah v. INEC & 3 Ors (2014) 1-2 SC (Pt.iv) p.101. I explained Preliminary Objections and when to file them and when not to file them. I said that: “A Preliminary Objection should only be filed against the hearing of an appeal and not against one or more grounds of appeal which are not capable of disturbing the hearing of the appeal. The purpose of a Preliminary Objection is to convince the Court that the appeal is fundamentally defective in which case the hearing of the appeal comes to an end if found to be correct. Where a preliminary objection would not be the appropriate process to object or show to the Court the defects in processes before it, a motion on notice filed complaining about a few grounds or defects would suffice.

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PRELIMINARY OBJECTION TAKEN FIRST

By its nature and necessary implications, the preliminary objection has to be taken first.

– Denton West JCA. Salaja v. Salaja (2013)

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COUNSEL MUST SEEK TO ARGUE PRELIMINARY OBJECTION FIRST

It was after appellants’ counsel had argued his appeal that respondent’s counsel argued his preliminary objection. Where respondent gives notice of preliminary objection to an appeal and incorporates argument thereon in his brief of argument, he is required to seek leave of Court to argue the objection before appellant’s counsel adopts his brief of argument. Where he fails to do so and allows appellant’s counsel to adopt his brief of argument first, it will be taken as an abandonment of the preliminary objection.

– Ekanem JCA. C.O.P. v. Doolor (2020) – CA/MK/182/2017

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