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NULLITY FOR LACK OF JURISDICTION

Dictum

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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TORT OF CONVERSION IS ACTIONABLE AT THE HIGH COURT

In TRADE BANK PLC v. BENILUX LIMITED (2003), 9 NWLR (pt.825) 416, this court in considering the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High court in matters provided under the section 230 (1) (d) of the constitution (suspension and Modification) Decree No.107 of 1993, held that although there is no relationship of customer and banker between the respondent and the appellant which fact would ordinarily have conferred jurisdiction on the High court, the respondent’s case therein, was simply a tort of conversion and therefore actionable in the High Court of a State.
(Relied on in Adetona & Ors. v Igele (2011) – SC.237/2005)

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MEANING AND IMPORTANCE OF JURISDICTION

Jurisdiction is defined broadly as the limits imposed on the power of a validly constituted court to hear and determine issues between persons seeking to avail themselves of its process by reference to the subject matter of the issues or to the persons between whom the issues are founded or to the kind of relief sought. The question of jurisdiction of a court is a radical and crucial question of competence because if a court has no jurisdiction to hear and determine a case, the proceedings are and remain a nullity ab initio no matter how well conducted and brilliantly decided they might be, because a defect in competence is not intrinsic but extrinsic to the process of adjudication. It is trite law that jurisdiction of a court is determined by the plaintiffs’ claim as endorsed in the writ of summons and statement of claim even where a Federal Government Agency is involved.

— O.O. Adekeye, JSC. Goldmark & Ors. v. Ibafon Co. & Ors. (2012) – SC.421/2001

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IT IS PARAMOUNT TO DECIDE ISSUE OF JURISDICTION FIRST

The issue of jurisdiction is the bedrock of adjudication by a Court of law and as such, it is basically considered expedient to resolve same before proceeding to consider the main issues presented to the Court for adjudication on the merit. It goes without saying that the determination of a suit by a Court is null and void if done without jurisdiction notwithstanding how well or proper the proceeding was conducted. The jurisdiction of a Court to entertain a matter is therefore fundamental to the extent that if a Court has no jurisdiction to hear and determine a case, the proceedings is a nullity ab initio. See Madukolu v. Nkemdilim (1962) 2 SCNLR 341; A.G. Lagos State v. Dosunmu (1989) 6 SC (Pt. II) page 1; A.G. Rivers State v. A.G. Akwa Ibom State (2011) 8 NWLR (Pt. 1248) 31; Ajao v. Alao (1986) 5 NWLR (Pt. 45) 802; Galadima v. Tambai (2000) 6 SCNJ 190.

— S.C. Oseji, JCA. Access Bank v Edo State BIR (2018) – CA/B/333/2015

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ISSUE OF STATUTE BARRED CHALLENGES COURT JURISDICTION

It is also well established that when a party raises the issue that an action is statute barred, he is no doubt challenging the competence of the Suit and the jurisdiction of the court to entertain it.

– Oseji, JCA. SIFAX v. MIGFO (2015)

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RULES OF COURT DO NOT VEST JURISDICTION IN A COURT OF LAW

There is another aspect of the matter and it is the citation of Order 43 Rule 1 of the High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules of Abia State. While I agree that they are the current Rules, can Rules of Court vest jurisdiction in a court of law? Rules of court do not possess any legal capacity to vest jurisdiction in a court. That is never their function. The function belongs to the Constitution and statutes; not rules of court. I will therefore not examine the content of Order 43 Rule 1 of the High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules of Abia State.

— Niki Tobi, JSC. Buhari v. INEC (2008) – SC 51/2008

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COURT LACKS JURISDICTION WHERE THERE ARE NO PROPER PARTIES

It is trite law that for a court to be competent and have jurisdiction over a matter, proper parties must be identified. Before an action can succeed, the parties to it must be shown to be the proper parties to whom rights and obligations arising from the cause of action attach. The question of proper parties is a very important issue which would affect the jurisdiction of the court as it goes to the foundation of the suit in limine. Where proper parties are not before the court then the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the suit.

– Adekeye, J.S.C. Goodwill v. Witt (2011) – SC. 266/2005

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