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JURISDICTION CAN BE RAISED AT ANYTIME BY THE COURT

Dictum

The law is well settled that the issue of jurisdiction is so fundamental to adjudication that it can be raised at any stage of the proceedings and even for the first time on appeal to this court. See Usman Dan Fodio University v. Kraus Thompson Ltd (2001) 15 NWLR (Pt. 736) 305; Elabanjo v. Dawodu (2006) All FWLR (Pt. 328) 604, (2006) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1001) 76 115-116 G-A ; PDP v. Okorocha (2012) All FWLR (Pt. 626) 449, (2012) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1323) 205. The issues are therefore competent before this court.

— Kekere-Ekun, JSC. Nyesom v. Peterside (SC.1002/2015 (REASONS), 12 Feb 2016)

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WHERE SUBJECT MATTER OF FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT APPLICATION IS WITHIN FHC, STATE HIGH COURT HAS NO JURISDICTION

Whereas both the State and Federal High Courts have concurrent jurisdiction in the determination of Fundamental Right cases, the phrase “subject to the provision of the Constitution” as embodied under Section 46 (2) demarcated the respective Jurisdictions of the State and Federal High Courts. In essence, a State High Court cannot for instance rightly and validly determine allegations of breach of Fundamental Rights emanating from acts of Terrorism or Treason and Treasonable felonies which fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court. Likewise, a Federal High Court cannot except where circumstances permit, validly determine alleged violation of human rights that arise from torts, rape or armed robbery etc. as the same ordinarily fall within the jurisdiction of the State High Courts.

— U. Onyemenam, JCA. Iheme v Chief of Defence Staff (2018) – CA/J/264/2017

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ISSUE OF JURISDICTION CAN ONLY BE RAISED AT THE ARBITRATION PANEL

The law therefore is that although in the regular Courts, the issue of jurisdiction can be raised at all stages of the proceedings of a case; from the trial to the final appellate, where a statute prescribed the stage at which the issue is to be raised in the course of the proceedings of a case, the issue cannot be validly and properly raised at any other stage other than the one stipulated in the statute. The general principle applies only where there was no statutory provision as to the particular or specific stage of the proceedings of a case at which the issue of jurisdiction is to be raised by a party.

– Garba, JCA. Dunlop v. Gaslink (2018)

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ISSUE ON JURISDICTION MUST BE RESOLVED BEFORE ANY OTHER THING

Once the question of jurisdiction is raised, it must be resolved before any further step is taken in the proceedings as the jurisdiction of the Court to entertain the suit is fundamental to the competence of the Court, and has been described as the lifeblood of adjudication. See Statoil (Nig) Ltd v Inducon (Nig) Ltd (2021) 7 NWLR Part 1774 Page 1 at 47-48 Para H-F per M.D. Muhammad JSC; Central Bank of Nigeria v Rahamaniyya G.R. Ltd (2020) 8 NWLR Part 1726 Page 314 at 337 Para A-B per Okoro JSC.

— O. Adefope-Okojie, JCA. Kanu v FRN (2022) – CA/ABJ/CR/625/2022

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JURISDICTION OF COURT – JURISDICTION CAN BE RAISED AT ANY TIME

I have found that ground (1) is premised on the jurisdiction of the lower court. It is the law that even where a court of law does not pronounce whether it has jurisdiction to try a matter or not, once the establishing law or other statutes or the subject matter or party before the court has divested that court of jurisdiction, then jurisdiction does not reside in the court. The ground is properly taken by the appellant in this appeal as issue of jurisdiction can be raised at any level of the proceedings of a court even at appeal levels. See: Nigeria Eng. Works Ltd. v. Denap Ltd. (2001) 18 NWLR (Pt.746) 726.

— T. Muhammad, JSC. VAB Petroleum v. Momah (2013) – SC.99/2004

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IT IS ONLY SIGNATORIES TO THE ECOWAS TREATY WHO CAN BE SUED BEFORE THE ECOWAS COURT

✓ In the case of JOHNNY KING & 10 Ors V. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA & 9 Ors ECW/CCJ/RUL/06/19, the Court held that: “The Court has looked at the laws regarding its jurisprudence as well as precedents in this Court, and it is so clear that, it is only member states of ECOWAS who are signatories to the treaties can be brought before this Court for human rights violations and this Court has maintained that position in all its decisions.”
✓ In SERAP V. THE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA & Ors ECW/CCJ/RUL/07/10, The Court confirms that: “In the context and legal framework of ECOWAS, the court stands by its current understanding that only member States and Community Institutions can be sued before it for alleged violation of human right as laid down in Peter David v. Ambassador Ralph Uwechue delivered on 11 th day of June 2010”.

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