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NOTICE OF APPEAL MUST BE SERVED PERSONALLY

Dictum

By Order 2 Rule 3 (1) (b) of the Supreme Court Rules, Notice of Appeal is required to be served personally. This Court has in a number of cases held that the Notice of Appeal is an originating process and failure to serve same personally on a Respondent constitutes a fundamental vice which renders the appeal incompetent as this Court will be deprived of the jurisdiction to entertain the appeal in any form whatsoever except to make an order to strike out the said appeal.

– S.C. OSEJI, J.S.C. Odey v. Alaga (2021) – SC.9/2021

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APPEAL CANNOT BE DECIDED WHERE NOTICE OF APPEAL IS COMPETENT

My lords, it is of utmost importance and I so bear it in my mind that it is only when a notice of appeal is competent that a determination of it on the merit will be feasible. In other words, where a notice of appeal is incompetent, it is liable to be terminated in limine and it would be of no moment no matter how meritorious it would have been if it were to be considered on the merit. In law, one of the most essential requirement or condition precedent for the competence of an appeal to be determined on the merit by the Court is a valid notice and grounds of appeal, in the absence of which such an appeal would be rendered incompetent and thus incapable of being determined on the merit by this Court for without jurisdiction there can be no competence of any cause or matter or appeal before the Court. It has long been settled in our law that jurisdiction is a fundamental one and thus can be raised at any stage of the proceedings, even on appeal for the first time as in the instant appeal by either of the parties or even by the Court suo motu and once raised it must first be determined one way or the other by the Court before any other issue touching on the merit or otherwise of the respective cases of the parties can be enquired and be determined on the merit by the Court. This is so because in the absence of jurisdiction there can be no competence in the 1st Respondent’s claim to be heard and determined on the merit, since jurisdiction is the life blood of every cause or action and thus where the requisite jurisdiction is found to be lacking, that is indeed the end of the matter. See Madukolu v. Nkemdilim (1962) 2 All NLR 581.

— B.A. Georgewill, JCA. University of Lagos v. Mbaso (2018) – CA/L/775/2016

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A NOTICE OF APPEAL IS AN INITIATING PROCESS

A notice of appeal is an initiating process by which a higher Court is invited to review the decision of a lower Court to determine whether on a proper consideration of the facts placed before the Court and the applicable law to the said facts, the lower Court arrived at a correct decision … The filing of a notice of appeal is a necessary prerequisite to the hearing of an appeal. Where leave is required a notice of appeal filed without leave is incurably defective and such notice cannot be amended. See Popoola vs. Adeyemo (1992) 8 NWLR (pt. 257) 1 SC, Abidoye vs Alawode (2001) 13 WRN 71 SC.

— W.S.N. Onnoghen, JSC. SPDC v Agbara (2019) – SC.731/2017(R)

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ISSUE OF COMPETENCE SHOULD BE RAISED VIA NOTICE OF APPEAL

HEYDEN PETROLEUM LIMITED v. TOP LEADER SHIPPING INC (2018) LPELR-46680(CA) stated: “A preliminary objection that an appeal should not be heard and determined on the merit is a serious issue and if founded on grounds alleging incompetence of the appeal it should be taken seriously and considered and resolved one way or the other since without competence there is really no basis for adjudication and decision on the merit by a Court. Thus an issue bordering on the competence or incompetence of the entire grounds of appeal in an appeal is one which can validly be raised by means of a notice of preliminary objection and not by way of motion of notice.”

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MORE THAN ONE NOTICE OF APPEAL FILED WITHIN TIME IS VALID

Tukur Vs Government of Gongola State (1988) 1 NSCC 30 at 36: It is more correct to say that the Rules of the Court of Appeal did not expressly provide for the filing of more than one notice. The Rules were silent on the Issue and it is therefore my opinion that every notice of appeal filed within time is valid. If more than one notices are filed within time, the others may be superfluous but not invalid. All the notices combined have been in exercise of a right of appeal. They may have stated different grounds which if permissible in law, gives validity and competency to the notice. Where several notices of appeal have been validly filed, I cannot see anything preventing an application for leave to consolidate them into one or for withdrawal of all except one.

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WHERE A NOTICE OF APPEAL IS DEFECTIVE

It is not in doubt that a notice of appeal, being an originating process in an appeal process, is a very important document. It is the foundation of an appeal. If it is defective, the appellate Court has no choice than to strike it out on the ground that it is incompetent. I need to emphasis that the question of whether or not a proper notice of appeal has been filed in Court is a question which touches on the jurisdiction of the appellate Court. If no proper Notice has been filed, then there is no appeal for the Court to entertain. See FBN PLC v TSA Industries Ltd (2011) 15 NWLR (pt.1216) 247, Anadi v Okoti (1972) 7 SC page 57, Central Bank of Nigeria v Okojie (2004) 10 NWLR (pt.882) 488, Olanrewaju v BON Ltd (1994) 8 NWLR (pt.364) 622, Abubakar v Waziri (2008) 14 NWLR (pt.1108) 507.

— J.I. Okoro, JSC. Universal Properties v. Pinnacle Comm. Bank, NJA, Opia, Heritage, Fatogun (SC.332/2008, Friday, April 08, 2022)

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APPELLANT ENTITLED TO FILE MORE THAN ONE NOTICE OF APPEAL

There is also no doubt and it cannot be disputed that an appellant is entitled to file more than one Notice of Appeal within the time prescribed for so doing by the Rules of court. But whenever there are more than one Notices of Appeal and all the said Notices were filed within the time so prescribed, the Appellant cannot use or rely upon more than just one of the Notices of Appeal to argue the appeal. He must choose which of them he intends to rely upon.

– O. Ariwoola, JSC. Tukur v. Uba (2012) – SC.390/2011

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