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IF PRELIMINARY OBJECTION IS UPHELD FURTHER PROCEEDINGS IS UNNECESSARY

Dictum

A preliminary objection to the competence of an appeal, is an objection, if upheld, renders further proceedings before the Court or tribunal unnecessary. Therefore, when it is raised, it must be resolved before venturing into the appeal.

— P.A. Galumje, JSC. Compact Manifold v Pazan Ltd. (2019) – SC.361/2017

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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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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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MOTION ON NOTICE, NOT PRELIMINARY OBJECTION, IS THE PROPER PROCESS TO CHALLENGE SOME GROUNDS OF APPEAL

The emphasis is that a preliminary objection can only be issued against the hearing of the appeal, and not against a selection of grounds of appeal, which even if it is upheld cannot terminate the appeal in limine. In KLM Royal Dutch Airlines v. Aloma (2017) LPELR- 42588 (SC), this Court, per Kudirat Motonmori Olatokunbo Kekere-Ekun, JSC at pages 6-7, paras D-B, held:- The purpose of a preliminary objection is to truncate the hearing of an appeal in limine. It is raised where the respondent is satisfied that there is a fundamental defect in the appeal that would affect the Courts jurisdiction to entertain it. Where there are other grounds that could sustain the appeal, a preliminary objection should not be filed. Where the purpose of the objection is merely to challenge the competence of some grounds of appeal, the best procedure is by way of motion on notice. The reason is that the success of the objection would not terminate the hearing of the appeal. See Odunukwe v. Ofomata (2010) 18 NWLR (Pt.1225) 404 at 423 C-F, Ndigwe v. Nwude (1999) 11 NWLR (Pt.626) 314; N.E.P.A. v. Ango (2001) 15 NWLR (Pt. 734) 627; Muhammed v. Military Administrator Plateau State (2001) 18 NWLR (Pt.744) 183. See also the case of Adejumo v. Olawaiye (2014) 12 NWLR(Pt.1421) 252 at 279 where this Court, per Rhodes-Vivour said:- ‘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… Where a preliminary objection would not be the appropriate process to object or show to the Court defects in processes before it, a motion on notice filed complaining of a few grounds or defects would suffice.’ From the authorities I have highlighted above, it is clear that the preliminary objection in the instant case is inappropriate and same is liable to be struck out. Accordingly, same is hereby struck out.

— P.A. Galumje, JSC. Compact Manifold v Pazan Ltd. (2019) – SC.361/2017

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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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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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ESSENCE OF PRELIMINARY OBJECTION

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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