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ABSENCE OF SIGNATURE OF A JUDGE IN AN ORIGINATING SUMMONS

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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 IS NOT SUITABLE FOR CONTROVERSIAL CASES

The principle has become trite that the originating summons procedure is not for causes in which facts remain hostile and in conflict. The procedure is ideal for the determination of short and straight forward questions of construction and interpretation of documents or statutes. It is never the applicable procedure in controversial cases where the facts on which the court is invited to construe or interpret the document or legislation in relation to remain violently in conflict. See also Famfa Oil Limited v. AG of the Federation & anor [2003] LPELR-1239(SC); [2003] 18 NWLR (Pt. 852) 453.

Olatunji v UBER (2018) – NICN/LA/546/2017

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COMMENCING BY ORIGINATING SUMMONS OR BY WRIT OF SUMMONS

As demonstrated above, Originating Summons is, particularly, employed in commencing a suit when what is in dispute is the mere construction of documents or interpretation of law in respect of which pleadings are unnecessary or where there is no real dispute as to facts between the parties, G. F. Harwood, Odger’s Principles of Pleadings and Practice in Civil Actions (Twentieth Ed) (New Delhi – India: Universal Law Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd, 2010) 352; F. Nwadialo, Civil Procedure in Nigeria (Lagos: University of Lagos Press, 2000) 211; Arjay Ltd and Ors v A. M. S. Ltd (2003) LPELR -555 (SC) … The situation is different in a suit commenced by Writ of Summons where the facts are regarded as holding a pride of place and the fountain head of the law in the sense that the facts lead to a legal decision on the matter. That is not the position in proceedings commenced by Originating Summons, where facts do not play a central role but an infinitesimal role. On the distinction between Originating Summons and Writ of Summons, see the following cases: Dapianlong v. Dariye (supra); Keyamo v. House of Assembly, Lagos State [2002] 18 NWLR (pt. 799) 605; Director, SSS v. Agbakoba [1999] 3 NWLR (pt. 595) 314; Famfa Oil Ltd v. Attorney-General, Federation and Anor [2003] 18 NWLR (pt. 852) 453; Inakoju v. Adeleke (supra); and Attorney-General, Adamawa State and Ors v. Attorney-General, Federation and Ors (2005) LPELR- 602 (SC).

— C.C. Nweze, JSC. APC v. Sheriff (2023) – SC/CV/1689/2022

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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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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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WHERE INTERPRETATION IS NEEDED ORIGINATING SUMMONS IS APPROPRIATE

KEYAMO VS. HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY, LAGOS STATE (2000) 11 W.R.N. 29 at 40, (2000) 12 NWLR (Pt. 680) 796 at 213 stated as follows: “I must state that the correct position of the law is that originating summons is used to commence an action where the issue involved is one of the construction of a written law or of any instrument made under a written law, or of any deed, contract or other document or some other question of law or where there is unlikely to be any substantial dispute of fact. This is the provision of Order 3 Rule 2 (2) of the Lagos State Civil Procedure (supra)”

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ORIGINATING SUMMONS CANNOT BE USED WHERE FACTS ARE CONTENTIOUS

OBASANYA v. BABAFEMI (2000) 23 WRN (Pt.689) 1 at 17 stated again as follows: “Where the facts are controversial or contentious and cannot be ascertained without evidence being adduced, originating summons should not be appropriately used; and if used it should be discountenanced. See N. B. N. & ANOR VS. ALAKIJA (1978) 2 LRN 78 see also DOHERTY VS. DOHERTY (1964) N.M.L.R. 144, UNILAG VS. AIGORO (1991) 3 NWLR (Pt.179) 367; ANATOGU Vs. ANATOGU (1997) 9. The provision of Order 3 Rule 2 of the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules 1994 (supra) quite clearly provides that the originating summons procedure is only suitable for cases where the sole or principle question is one of construction of document. In the construction of such documents, law or instruments no evidence is required or adduced. Facts constituting an allegation of fraud by their very nature are controversial.”

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