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PRELIMINARY OBJECTION IS RAISED TO THE HEARING OF AN APPEAL AND NOT A FEW GROUNDS

Dictum

A preliminary objection is only raised to the hearing of the appeal, and not to a few grounds of appeal. The purport of preliminary objection is the termination or truncation of the appeal in limine. A Preliminary Objection should only be filed against the hearing of an appeal and not against one or more grounds of appeal when there are other grounds to sustaining the appeal; which purported Preliminary Objection is, therefore, not capable of truncating the hearing of the appeal. In such a situation, a preliminary objection is not the appropriate procedure to deploy against defective grounds of appeal when there are other grounds, not defective, which can sustain the hearing of the appeal. See Per EKO, JSC, in AJUWON & ORS V. GOVERNOR OF OYO STATE & ORS (2021) LPELR-55339(SC) (PP. 4-5 PARAS. D).

— Uwani Abba Aji JSC. Peter Obi & Anor. v. INEC & Ors. (SC/CV/937/2023, Thursday the 26th day of October 2023)

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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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WHAT IS A PRELIMINARY OBJECTION?

A Preliminary Objection as a matter of law is a process or procedure via which a party to an action may truncate the proceedings therein on account of a fundamental defect in the way the matter is constituted, which renders the taking of further action in the proceedings a meaningless waste of time and effort.

– Tukur JCA. Odulate v. FBN (2019)

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PRELIMINARY OBJECTION TAKEN FIRST

By its nature and necessary implications, the preliminary objection has to be taken first.

– Denton West JCA. Salaja v. Salaja (2013)

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IF PRELIMINARY OBJECTION IS UPHELD FURTHER PROCEEDINGS IS UNNECESSARY

A preliminary objection to the competence of an appeal, is an objection, if upheld, renders further proceedings before the Court or tribunal unnecessary. Therefore, when it is raised, it must be resolved before venturing into the appeal.

— P.A. Galumje, JSC. Compact Manifold v Pazan Ltd. (2019) – SC.361/2017

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MOTION ON NOTICE, NOT PRELIMINARY OBJECTION, IS THE PROPER PROCESS TO CHALLENGE SOME GROUNDS OF APPEAL

The emphasis is that a preliminary objection can only be issued against the hearing of the appeal, and not against a selection of grounds of appeal, which even if it is upheld cannot terminate the appeal in limine. In KLM Royal Dutch Airlines v. Aloma (2017) LPELR- 42588 (SC), this Court, per Kudirat Motonmori Olatokunbo Kekere-Ekun, JSC at pages 6-7, paras D-B, held:- The purpose of a preliminary objection is to truncate the hearing of an appeal in limine. It is raised where the respondent is satisfied that there is a fundamental defect in the appeal that would affect the Courts jurisdiction to entertain it. Where there are other grounds that could sustain the appeal, a preliminary objection should not be filed. Where the purpose of the objection is merely to challenge the competence of some grounds of appeal, the best procedure is by way of motion on notice. The reason is that the success of the objection would not terminate the hearing of the appeal. See Odunukwe v. Ofomata (2010) 18 NWLR (Pt.1225) 404 at 423 C-F, Ndigwe v. Nwude (1999) 11 NWLR (Pt.626) 314; N.E.P.A. v. Ango (2001) 15 NWLR (Pt. 734) 627; Muhammed v. Military Administrator Plateau State (2001) 18 NWLR (Pt.744) 183. See also the case of Adejumo v. Olawaiye (2014) 12 NWLR(Pt.1421) 252 at 279 where this Court, per Rhodes-Vivour said:- ‘A preliminary objection should only be filed against the hearing of an appeal and not against one or more grounds of appeal which are not capable of disturbing the hearing of the appeal… Where a preliminary objection would not be the appropriate process to object or show to the Court defects in processes before it, a motion on notice filed complaining of a few grounds or defects would suffice.’ From the authorities I have highlighted above, it is clear that the preliminary objection in the instant case is inappropriate and same is liable to be struck out. Accordingly, same is hereby struck out.

— P.A. Galumje, JSC. Compact Manifold v Pazan Ltd. (2019) – SC.361/2017

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ESSENCE OF PRELIMINARY OBJECTION

This is more so as the whole essence of preliminary objection is to foreclose hearing the appeal. – Chukwuma-Eneh JSC. Yaro v. Arewa CL (2007)

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