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ESSENCE OF PRELIMINARY OBJECTION

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This is more so as the whole essence of preliminary objection is to foreclose hearing the appeal. – Chukwuma-Eneh JSC. Yaro v. Arewa CL (2007)

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PRELIMINARY OBJECTION WILL BE CONSIDERED FIRST

It is trite law now that where a Notice of Preliminary Objection is filed and moved before a court of law, the court is duty bound to consider the Preliminary Objection before venturing into the main or cross-appeal, as the case may be. See: AGBAREH and ANOR v. MIMRA and ORS, (2008) 1 SCNJ. 409, ONYEKWULUJE v. ANIMASHAUN and ANOR [1996] 3 SCNJ 24; ONYEMEH and ORS. v. EGBUCHULAM and ORS. [1996] 4 SCNJ 235 … The aim/essence of a preliminary objection is to terminate at infancy, or as it were, to nib it at the bud, without dissipating unnecessary energies in considering an unworthy or fruitless matter in a court’s proceedings. It, in other words, forecloses hearing of the matter in order to save time, See: YARO v. AREWA CONSTRUCTION LTD. and ORS. [2007] 6 SCNJ 418.

— I.T. Muhammad, JSC. EFET v INEC (SC.207/2009, 28 January 2011)

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WHERE AFFIDAVIT MAY OR MAY NOT BE NECESSARY TO ACCOMPANY A PRELIMINARY OBJECTION

Chief Hilary Ezugwu & Anor. v. IGP & 6 ors unreported Suit No. FCT/HC/CV/1168/2010, the ruling of which was delivered on 31 March 2010 per Affen J (now JCA) presents a similar scenario as the instant case. In Chief Hilary Ezugwu & Anor. v. IGP & 6 Ors., a preliminary objection was raised by the defendants on grounds of non-disclosure of reasonable cause of action, and abuse of court process. Although no affidavit in support was filed, a photocopy of the writ of summons, statement of claim and allied court processes of another case, suit No. FCT/ HC/CV/1959/2009, upon which the defendants relied as the basis for alleging abuse of court process, were annexed to the preliminary objection. On the propriety of annexing court processes (or indeed any other document) to a bare notice of preliminary objection, Affen J (now JCA) held thus: “… The law, as I have always understood it, is that a party raising a preliminary point of objection who intends to rely on facts ought to file a supporting affidavit deposing copiously to those facts. It is only where the objection is predicated on grounds of law and reliance is placed on documents already before the court that no need arises for the objector to file a supporting affidavit. Like pleadings, the object of a notice of preliminary objection is to give notice to the opposing side of the case to be made which enables each party to prepare for arguments upon the issues subject matter of the objection and this saves the opposing party from being taken by surprise. See CHIEF WILSON OKOI & ORS v CHIEF IBIANG & ORS [2002] 20 WRN 146 at 155.” It seems to me that there is no hard and fast rule that a preliminary objection need be supported by an affidavit so long as enough material is placed before the trial court on which it can judicially and judiciously pronounce on the preliminary objection. Where the alleged offending writ or petition ex facie contains the relevant information against which an objection is being raised, the necessity to rely on affidavit evidence does not arise.

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

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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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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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PRELIMINARY OBJECTION NOT ARGUED IS DEEMED ABANDONED

It is on record that on the day of hearing this appeal, both the Respondent and Appellant’s Counsel were absent. Thus, the preliminary objection stands abated and unused. An issue or a preliminary objection in respect of which no argument is advanced in the brief of argument and therefore not canvassed before the Court must be deemed abandoned. See Per IGUH, JSC in ONAMADE V. A.C.B. LTD (1997) LPELR-2671(SC) (PP. 17-18, PARAS. F-A). See also LEMBOYE V. OGUNSIJI (1990) 6 NWLR (PT. 155) 210 AT 232; AJIBADE V. PEDRO (1992) 5 NWLR (PT. 241) 257; ARE V. IPAYE (1986) 3 NWLR (PT. 29) 416 AT 418. The preliminary objection is hereby discountenanced and struck out.

— U.M. Abba Aji, JSC. Cappa v NDIC (2021) – SC.147/2006

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A PRELIMINARY OBJECTION WHICH IS NOT PURSUED IS ABANDONED

An issue or a preliminary objection in respect of which no argument is advanced in the brief of argument and therefore not canvassed before the court must be deemed abandoned. see Lemboye v. Ogunsiji (1990) 6 NWLR (Pt.155) 210 at 232; Ajibade v. Pedro (1992) 5 NWLR (Pt.241) 257; Are v. Ipaye (1986) 3 NWLR (Pt.29) 416 at 418.

— Iguh, JSC. Onamade v ACB (1997) – SC.199/1990

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