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WHEN A COURT IS COMPETENT TO EXERCISE JURISDICTION OVER A SUIT

Dictum

A court is said to be competent to exercise jurisdiction over a suit when the following are present: 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; 2. The subject matter of the case is within its jurisdiction, and there is no feature in 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. See MADUKOLU V. NKEMDILIM (1962) 2 SCNLR 341; O’BAU ENGINEERING LTD V. ALMASOL (NIG.) LTD (2022) LPELR 57985 (SC); PETROLEUM (SPECIAL) TRUST FUND V. FIDELITY BANK & ORS (2021) LPELR 56625 (SC); ENEH V. NDIC & ORS (2018) LPELR 44902 (SC); JAMES V. INEC & ORS (2015) LPELR 24494 (SC).

— A. Jauro, JSC. PDP v INEC (2023) – SC/CV/501/2023

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JURISDICTION MAY BE RAISED AT ANYTIME

Equally, true is the fact that the issue of jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of a proceeding up to the final determination of an appeal even by the highest court of the land. A trial court and, indeed, an appellate court may raise it suo motu at any stage of a proceeding, but must invite the parties to address it on the issue before it takes its decision thereupon.

– Iguh, JSC. Oshatoba v. Olujitan (2000)

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FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS BREACHED, NOT FALLING WITHIN FHC JURISDICTION, WILL BE INSTITUTED AT THE STATE HIGH COURT

Although, unlike the 1979 Constitution, Section 318(1) of the present Constitution does not define “High Court”, there is no doubt that the term carries the same meaning as given by Section 277(1) of the 1979 Constitution to mean Federal High Court or the High Court of a State. Therefore, it is my understanding that where a person’s fundamental right is breached, being breached or about to be breached, that person may apply under section 46(1) to the Judicial division of the Federal High Court in the State or the High Court of the State or that of the Federal Capital Territory in which the breach occurred or is occurring or about to occur. This is irrespective of whether the right involved comes within the legislative competence of the Federation or the State or the Federal Capital Territory, See the case of Minister of Internal Affairs v. Shugaba (1982) 3 NCLR 915. It has to however be noted that the exercise of this jurisdiction by the Federal High Court is where the fundamental right threatened or breached falls within the enumerated matters on which that court has jurisdiction. Thus, fundamental rights arising from matters outside its jurisdiction cannot be enforced by the Federal High Court. See: Tukur v. Government of Gongola State (1989) 3 NSCC 225. Equally, a High Court of a State shall lack jurisdiction to entertain matters of fundamental rights, although brought pursuant to section 46(2) of the Constitution where the alleged breach of such matters arose from a transaction or subject matter which fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court as provided by Section 251 of the Constitution.

— I.T. Muhammad, JSC. Adetona & Ors. v Igele (2011) – SC.237/2005

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FEDERAL HIGH COURT APPELLATE JURISDICTION – SECTION 27 FHC ACT

The Federal High Court, like a High Court of a State or of the Federal Capital Territory has appellate jurisdiction conferred by Section 27 of the Federal High court Act. It can hear and determine appears from: 1) the decisions of Appeal Commissioners established under the Companies Income Tax Act, 1961 and the Personal Income Tax Act, 1968 in so far an applicable as Federal Laws; 2) decisions of the Board of Customs and Excise established under Customs and Excise Management Act, 1958 3) decisions of Magistrates Courts in respect of civil or criminal cases or matters transferred to such courts pursuant to the Federal High Court Act; 4) decisions of any other body established by or under any other Federal enactment or law in respect of matters concerning which jurisdiction is conferred upon that court by the Act.

— I.T. Muhammad, JSC. Adetona & Ors. v Igele (2011) – SC.237/2005

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EXCLUSIVE JURISDICTION IS ON FHC WHERE ANY OF ITS AGENCIES IS A PARTY

ADEGBITE & ANOR. v AMOSU (2016) LPELR 40655 (SC); wherein it was held that: “The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) has conferred exclusive jurisdiction on the Federal High Court in a matter in which the Federal Government or any of its agencies is involved. (Section 251(1) (p), (q), (r) and (s).” Per Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, J.S.C (p. 16).

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FEDERAL HIGH COURT HAS JURISDICTION OVER AVIATION MATTERS

The Federal High Court has exclusive jurisdiction over Aviation related causes of action. See Section 251 (1) K of the Constitution; and a plaintiff, claimant would have a valid claim if his suit is commenced within two years from the date of arrival at his destination or from the date on which the aircraft ought to have arrived or from the date the flight ended. See Article 29 of both Legislations.

– Rhodes-Vivour, JSC. Cameroon v. Otutuizu (2011) – SC.217/2004

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COURT OF LAW SHOULD EXERCISE JURISDICTION WHERE

It is well settled, that a Court of law or tribunal is deemed competent to entertain and determine a matter or action before it if: (a) It is properly constituted in regard to numbers and qualification of the member thereof, and no member is disqualified for any reason whatsoever; (b) The subject matter of the case is within its jurisdiction, and there is no feature therein preventing the Court from exercising its jurisdiction; and (c) The case is initiated by due process of law, and upon satisfying any condition precedent to the exercise of jurisdiction. See Madukolu v. Nkemdilim (1962) 1 All NLR 587; (1962) 2 SCNLR 341; Mark v. Eke (1997) 11 NWLR (Pt. 529) 501; SLB Consotium Ltd v. NNPC (2011) 9 NWLR (Pt. 1252) 317, (2011) 5 SCM 187.

– I.M.M. Saulawa JSC. Ihim v. Maduagwu (2021)

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