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JURISDICTION OF COURT CANNOT BE GIVEN BY RULES OF COURT

Dictum

The law is settled that the jurisdiction of a Court of record, in its broad and substantive sense, cannot be conferred by the Rules of Court. The Rules of Court are only made, pursuant to the powers conferred on the heads of Courts by the Constitution to make Rules, to regulate practice and procedure in their respective Courts. The Rules they make are only to regulate the practice and procedure in their respective Courts. The Rules do not confer jurisdiction on the Court to entertain causes or matters. Rather, the jurisdiction of Courts in Nigeria is either conferred or vested by the Constitution or the enabling statute establishing the Court.

– E. Eko JSC. Mailantarki v. Tongo (2017) – SC.792/2015

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COURT JURISDICTION IN CUSTOMARY RIGHT OF OCCUPANCY GRANTED BY LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Olaleye-Ote & Anor v. Babalola (2012) LPELR-9275(SC), where it was stated that, “The Land Use Act vested jurisdiction in proceedings relating to Customary Right of Occupancy granted by a Local Government on: ‘An Area Court or Customary Court or other Court of equivalent jurisdiction in a State without classification. The State Law imposed classification with jurisdiction of each grade of Court based on the value or annual rental value of the land, this modifying the jurisdiction conferred by the Federal Law.’ In my humble view, the Federal Legislature effectively covered the field in relation to the jurisdiction of the relevant Courts over proceedings in matters of customary right of occupancy granted by a Local Government. The State Law conferring jurisdiction according to Grade and value of the land in litigation is in conflict with S.41 of the Land Use Act, a Federal legislation.”

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COURT EXERCISES JURISDICTION ONLY OVER THOSE WHO ARE WITHIN ITS TERRITORIAL JURISDICTION

Courts exercise jurisdiction over persons who are within its territorial jurisdiction: Nwabueze vs. Obi-Okoye (1988) 10-11 SCNJ 60 at 73; Onyema vs. Oputa (1987) 18 NSCC (Pt. 2) 900; Ndaeyo vs. Ogunnaya (1977) 1 SC 11. Since the respondent was fully aware that before the issuance of the writ the appellant’s abode or residence for the past one year was no longer at No.189, Off R.B. Dikko Road, Asokoro, Abuja within jurisdiction, substituted service of the processes should not have been ordered by the learned trial Judge.

— J.T. Tur, JCA. Abdulkardir Abacha v Kurastic [2014] – CA/A/406/2010

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NULLITY FOR LACK OF JURISDICTION

Without doubt, where a case is heard and judgment is delivered by a court without jurisdiction, the proceedings will be a nullity. – Iguh, JSC. Oshatoba v. Olujitan (2000)

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COURT PROPERLY CONSTITUTED

Madukolu v. Nkemdilim (1962) 1 All NLR 587 per Bairamian FJ as follows:- “Put briefly, a court is competent when: It is properly constituted as regards numbers and qualifications of the members of the bench, and no member is disqualified for one reason or another; (2) The subject matter of the case is within its jurisdiction and there is no feature in the case which prevents the court from exercising its jurisdiction; and the case comes before the court initiated by the due process of law and upon fulfillment of any condition precedent to the exercise of jurisdiction.”

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JURISDICTION MAY BE RAISED AT ANYTIME

Equally, true is the fact that the issue of jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of a proceeding up to the final determination of an appeal even by the highest court of the land. A trial court and, indeed, an appellate court may raise it suo motu at any stage of a proceeding, but must invite the parties to address it on the issue before it takes its decision thereupon.

– Iguh, JSC. Oshatoba v. Olujitan (2000)

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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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