Judiciary-Poetry-Logo
JPoetry

THE CONCEPT OF JURISDICTION

Dictum

The concept of what jurisdiction encompasses was proffered in the judgment of this Honourable Court in Aladejobi v. N.B.A. (2013) 15 NWLR (Pt.1376) page 66 at 81, wherein this Court held as to the Constitution of jurisdiction thus: “It is said to be the authority which a Court has to decide matters that are litigated before it or to take cognizance of matters presented in a formal way for its decision. Such authority of the Court is controlled or circumscribed by the statute creating the Court itself or it may be circumscribed by a condition precedent created by a legislation which must be fulfilled before the Court can entertain the suit. It is the power and authority of a Court to hear and determine a judicial proceedings and power to render particular judgment in a cause of action.”

Was this dictum helpful?

SHARE ON

NO JURISDICTION MAKES THE PROCEEDING A NULLITY

The Law is well settled that where a court has no jurisdiction to entertain any claim, anything done in respect of the claim will be an exercise in futility. In the celebrated case on the subject of jurisdiction and competence of court of Madukolu & others v Nkemdilim & others (1962) 2 SCNLR 342; (1962) NSCC 374; (1962) 1 All NLR 587; Bairamian, F.J. stated the law at page 595 as follows:- “Before discussing those portions of the record, I shall make some observations on jurisdiction and the competence of a court. Put it briefly, a court is competent when:- (1) it is properly constituted as regards members and qualification of the members of the bench and no member is disqualified for one reason or another; and (2) the subject matter of the case is within its jurisdiction, and there is no feature of the case which prevents the court from exercising its jurisdiction; and (3) the case comes before the court initiated by due process of law, and upon fulfilment of any condition precedent to the exercise of jurisdiction.” Once there is a defect in competence, it is fatal as the proceedings are a nullity. See Ojo-Ajao & others v Popoola Ajao & others (1986) 5 NWLR (Part 45) 802 and Attorney-General Anambra State v Attorney-General of the Federation (1993) 6 NWLR (Part 302) 692. — Mohammed JSC. AG Kano State v AG Federation (2007) – SC 26/2006

Was this dictum helpful?

JURISDICTION OF NIGERIAN COURTS

It is trite law that jurisdiction is the life wire of any case. The jurisdiction of a Court is the authority which the Court has to decide matters that are litigated before it. See RAHMAN BROTHERS LTD v. NPA (2019) LPELR-46415 (SC), NWANZE v. NRC (2022) LPELR 59631 (SC), BANK OF INDUSTRY LTD. v. OBEYA (2021) LPELR 56881 (SC). The jurisdiction of the Court in Nigeria is inherent and is bestowed upon it by Section 6 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as altered) (hereinafter referred to as 1999 CFRN). Under Section 6(6) of the 1999 CFRN, the judicial powers of the Court extends to all matters between government or authority and to any persons in Nigeria, and to all actions and proceedings relating thereto, for the determination of any question as to the civil rights and obligations of that person.

— H.M. Ogunwumiju, JSC. UBA v Triedent Consulting Ltd. (SC.CV/405/2013, July 07, 2023)

Was this dictum helpful?

COMPETENCE IS SOUL OF ADJUDICATION – JURISDICTION MUST BE SATISFIED

African Songs Limited & Anor v. King Sunday Adeniyi Adegeye (2019) 2 NWLR (Pt. 1656) 335 @ p. 365 – 366: “My lords, while in today’s jurisprudence of ‘substantial justice’ the issue of ‘mere technicality’ no longer holds sway, yet it is truism that competence is the soul of adjudication. It is in this sense the issue of competence can no longer in law truly be regarded as ‘mere technicality’ but rather be seen as substantial issue of law. In other words, while eschewing technicality for its sake, a Court can only exercise jurisdiction where all conditions precedent to the exercise of its powers have been fulfilled.”

Was this dictum helpful?

JURISDICTION IS DETERMINED FROM THE FACTS PRESENTED BY THE PLAINTIFF

Para. 12: “The plaintiffs failed to address the issues raised by the defendant in the preliminary objection. This court in its inherent jurisdiction to do justice at all times will however proceed to analyze the issues raised in line with the facts presented by the plaintiffs in the initiating application. This is more so as jurisdiction is determined from the facts presented in a Plaintiffs application and not from the defence.”

— Osaghae v Nigeria (2017) – ECW/CCJ/JUD/03/17

Was this dictum helpful?

JURISDICTION OF COURT – JURISDICTION CAN BE RAISED AT ANY TIME

I have found that ground (1) is premised on the jurisdiction of the lower court. It is the law that even where a court of law does not pronounce whether it has jurisdiction to try a matter or not, once the establishing law or other statutes or the subject matter or party before the court has divested that court of jurisdiction, then jurisdiction does not reside in the court. The ground is properly taken by the appellant in this appeal as issue of jurisdiction can be raised at any level of the proceedings of a court even at appeal levels. See: Nigeria Eng. Works Ltd. v. Denap Ltd. (2001) 18 NWLR (Pt.746) 726.

— T. Muhammad, JSC. VAB Petroleum v. Momah (2013) – SC.99/2004

Was this dictum helpful?

JUDGE SHOULD NOT MAKE PRONOUNCEMENTS ON THE CASE AFTER STRIKING OUT FOR WANT OF JURISDICTION

It is my judgment that the Judge was wrong in dismissing the suit rather than striking it out when he held that he had no jurisdiction. The court was not just wrong, I dare say that the court abdicated a constitutional obligation or duty. In any case, the law is that even where a court finds that it had no jurisdiction he has no business making any other order or proceeding further other than to do his only duty, which is to strike out the matter or case: Obi v. I.N.E.C. (2007) All FWLR (Pt. 378) 1116, (2007) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1046) 565. Also the case of John Egbele v. The Post Master General (unreported decision of this court in CA/L/585/05 delivered on 10 November 2010) wherein this court, per Mukhtar JCA in his lead judgment said at page 10 thus: “The court below having rightly held that it lacked jurisdiction in the matter, ought to have simply struck out the matter as it lacked the competence to decide any other issue. The further pronouncement by the court that the suit was statute-barred was null and void and same is hereby struck out” In Okotie-Eboh v. Manager (2005) 123 LRCN 256, (2005) All FWLR (Pt. 241) 277, the Supreme Court also made it clear, per Edozie JSC at page 288, paragraph K of the report that the superfluous pronouncement made after a finding that the court had no jurisdiction was academic as courts of law are not academic institutions. I must say that it is for this same reason that I had in the decision of this court in Egbele v. The Post Master General said in my contribution as follows: “it is in the same reasoning that I hold that challenge raised in ground No. 2 of the appeal – bordering as it were on the limitation of action, has no merit as the High Court of a State including that of Lagos State has no jurisdiction to proceed to pronounce on the incompetence of the suit for being statute-barred after it had found … That it lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate the matter.”

— Danjuma, JCA. Tony Anthony Nig. Ltd & Ors. v. NDIC (CA/L/630/2009 • 25 January 2011)

Was this dictum helpful?

No more related dictum to show.