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ABSENCE OF SIGNATURE OF A JUDGE IN AN ORIGINATING SUMMONS

Dictum

Although I do not agree with learned counsel to the respondents in his submission that absence of the signature of a Judge in an originating summons is a mere technicality, I think it is correct to say that the defect did not render the originating summons a nullity. Where the non-compliance with the rules is on the part of the court, the defect is merely administrative and did not render the originating summons or proceedings consequent thereto a nullity.

— Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Saude v. Abdullahi (1989) – SC.197/1987

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ORIGINATING SUMMONS NOT SUITABLE WHERE FACTS ARE IN DISPUTE

The law is indeed well settled that Originating Summons procedure for initiating action is not suitable and therefore not available for action involving hostile proceedings where the facts are seriously in dispute.

– Mahmud, JSC. Elelu-Habeeb v. A.G Federation (2012)

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ORIGINATING SUMMONS AND AFFIDAVITS

In this appeal, the main action was commenced by way of Originating Summons. Under this procedure, pleadings are not filed nor witnesses called. It is, generally, heard on affidavit evidence deposed to in support and in opposition, with documents exhibited, Famfa Oil Ltd v. Attorney-General, Federation and Anor [2003] LPELR-1239 (SC); JEV and Anor v. Iyortyom and Ors[2014] LPELR-23000 (SC); Zakirai v. Muhammmad and Ors [2017] LPELR- 42349 (SC). As earlier stated, in deciding an interlocutory application, a Court should endeavor to limit itself to the dispositions made in the affidavit evidence before it. Thus, having regard to the nature of the originating process, and there being nothing but documentary evidence placed before the lower Court, the lower Court was in a good position to examine the entire affidavit evidence and the other documents placed before the trial Court in determining whether the ruling of the trial Court with regards to the preliminary objection was correct, Chief Agbaisi and Ors v Ebikorefe and Ors [1997] 4 SCNJ 147, 160; Agbahomovo and Ors v. Eduyegbe and Ors. [1999] 3 NWLR (pt. 594) 170; Jikantoro and Ors, v. Dantoro and Ors. [2004] 5 SCNJ 152, 177; Agbareh and Anor v. Mimrah and Ors, [2008] LPELR-43211 (SC).

— C.C. Nweze, JSC. Uzoho v NCP (SC.141/2007, Friday, May 13, 2022)

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CLAIM DETERMINES IF AN ORIGINATING SUMMONS IS APPROPRIATE

From the above therefore, the first duty of a trial judge, where action are begun or initiated by means of an originating summons procedure, is to examine the claim before him, and then to ascertain whether the procedure in originating summons was suitable or appropriate to the action. This first step, is sine qua-non to his assuming jurisdiction on the matter.

– Bage JCA. Ayetobi v. Taiwo (2014)

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ORIGINATING SUMMONS NOT SUITABLE FOR HOSTILE PROCEEDINGS

The merits of the originating summons lie in the fact that proceedings commenced thereby are very expeditiously dealt with as the action is almost invariably ready for hearing after the defendant had filed his counter-affidavit. Pleadings are not filed by the parties; witnesses are rarely examined, while affidavit evidence is used. Proceedings for which it is used therefore usually involve question of law rather than disputed facts. An originating summons should not be adopted if the proceedings are hostile proceedings.

– Adekeye, JSC. Elelu-Habeeb v. A.G Federation (2012)

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ORIGINATING SUMMONS IS USED FOR FACTS WITH NO SUBSTANTIAL DISPUTE

In 1907, Neville, J. clearly stated the principle in the English case of Re King. Mellor v. South Australian Land Mortgage and Agency Coy (1907) 1 Ch. 72: “In other words, it is our considered view that originating summons should only be applicable in such circumstances as where there is no dispute on questions of fact or the likelihood of such dispute. Where, for instance, the issue is to determine short questions of construction, and not matters of such controversy that the justice of the case would demand the settling of pleadings, originating summons could be applicable. For, it is to be noted that originating summons is merely a method of ‘procedure and not one that is meant to enlarge the jurisdiction of the court.”

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INTRODUCTION OF ORIGINATING SUMMONS

The English Common Law which Nigeria received has developed a corpus juris on when an action can and cannot be commenced by originating summons. The procedure for originating summons came into the English Legal System by the Chancery Procedure Act of 1852 which replaced the old mode of commencing proceedings in the Court of Chancery by “bill” with the commencement of a suit in certain cases only by summons originating proceedings in chambers. In 1883, the rules of the Supreme Court 1875 were stated and the term originating summons was for the first time introduced. See Re Holloway (A solicitor ex-parte Pallister (1894) 2 QS 163. See also Re Priver, Lindsell v. Phillips (1885) 30 Ch. D 291; In Re Giles Real and Personal Coy v. Michell (1890) 43 Ch. 0391; Nutten v. Holland (1894) 3 Ch. 408.

— Niki Tobi JSC. Pam & Anor. V Mohammed (2008) – SC.238/2007

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