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PRELIMINARY OBJECTION IN RESPONDENT’S BRIEF

Dictum

These days, preliminary objections are argued in the respondent’s brief thereby obviating the need to file a separate Notice of Preliminary Objection, and to save time. Absence of the required Notice makes the Preliminary objection incompetent. – Rhodes-Vivour JSC. Nwaolisah v. Nwabufoh (2011)

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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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PURPOSE OF A PRELIMINARY OBJECTION

A preliminary objection is the procedure adopted where a respondent objects to the hearing of an appeal. Its purpose is to terminate the appeal in limine.

– PER M.L. SHUAIBU, J.C.A. Cross & Star v. Government of Cross River State (2022)

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INCLUDING NOTICE OF PRELIMINARY OBJECTION IN BRIEF

‘Thus, a respondent who has any application to make in respect of a pending appeal, can without the leave of this court, raise the objection in a Respondents’ notice in his brief of argument, and proffer argument in support of the objection, in his brief of argument, without necessarily filing a Notice of Preliminary objection, formally. The essence of indicating in the respondents’ brief of argument, a notice of Preliminary objection is to enable the appellant to respond to it in a Reply brief of argument, upon the service of the respondents’ brief of argument on the appellant. The supreme court in Charles Chikwendu Odedo v. Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) (2008) 7 SCNJ 1 at pg.25, provided a guide as to how a preliminary objection can be raised in a brief of argument. It is to be raised under a conspicuous title or heading of “PRELIMINARY OBJECTION” followed by the grounds of the objection and supported with the argument thereon. Further see. Chief Emmanuel Osita Okereke v. Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Ors (2008) 5 SCNJ 1; Ralph Uwazurike v. Attorney General of the Federation (2007) 2 SCNJ 369 at P.380; Ajide v. Kelani (1985) 3 NWLR (Pt. 12) 248. I have perused the Respondents’ briefs of argument dated 14th March, 2011 and at page 3: paragraph 3.00, the NOTICE OF PRELIMINARY OBJECTION was conspicuously given therein; the grounds for the objection were also stated and thereafter the arguments on the preliminary objection were proffered by learned to the respondents. I am therefore satisfied that the notice of preliminary objection, by the respondents, is competent and I shall proceed to consider and determine it.’

— T.S. YAKUBU, JCA. Fayose v ICN (2012) – CA/AE/58/2010

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A PRELIMINARY OBJECTION RENDERS FURTHER PROCEEDINGS UNNECESSARY

A Preliminary Objection is an objection that if upheld, would render further proceedings before a Court impossible or unnecessary – Black’s Law Dictionary, 9th Ed. See also Akpan V. Bob (2010) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1223) 421, wherein this held – An objection in law portrays a formal opposition of an objector against the happenings of an event which has already taken place or is about to take place now or in the future and the objector seeks the Court’s immediate ruling or intervention on the point. A Preliminary Objection seeks to provide an initial objection before the actual commencement of the thing being objected to.

— A.A. Augie, JSC. Universal Properties v. Pinnacle Comm. Bank, NJA, Opia, Heritage, Fatogun (SC.332/2008, Friday, April 08, 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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WHEN CHALLENGING ALL GROUNDS OF APPEAL, USE PRELIMINARY OBJECTION

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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