Rules of court cannot dictate when and how issue of jurisdiction can be raised.

Adegbite v. Amosu [2016] 15 NWLR (Pt. 1536) 405 at 433-434 paras. H-A:

“…Jurisdiction is radical in nature and since it is at the foundation of adjudication, it cannot be defeated by the provisions of rule of court… Because it is the foundation of any adjudication by the court, there is no special format for raising it.”

Nasir -v- Kano State Civil Service Commission [2010] 6 NWLR (Pt 1190) 253 at 276 paras. C-D:

“It is now firmly settled that issue of jurisdiction or competence of a court to entertain or deal with a matter before it, is very fundamental. It is a point of law and therefore, a rule of court, cannot dictate when and how, such point of law, can be raised. Being fundamental and threshold issue of jurisdiction, it can be raised at any stage of the proceedings in any court including this Court. An Appellant Court can even raise it suomotu. See the case of Anya v. Iyayi (1993) 7 NWLR (Pt. 305) and Kotoye v. Saraki (1994) 7 NWLR (Pt.357) 414 at 466. I need emphasize as it is also settled that mandatory Rules of Court, are not as sacrosanct as mandatory statutory provisions and therefore, a rule of court, cannot override a statutory provision of the law. See the case of Katto v. Central Bank of Nigeria (1991) 9 NWLR (Pt.212) 126. I hold therefore, that the objection of the Respondents, was rightly and properly upheld by the two lower courts.”

Blogger’s Note:

The above case of Adegbite v. Amosu was relied upon by Hassan J. of the Federal High Court, Lagos Division, in Segofs Energy Services Ltd. v. Midis Energy Services Ltd. (Unreported) Suit No. FHC/L/CS/529/16 where the learned trial Judge held on 20th of February, 2017 that Order 29 Rule 4 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009 cannot dictate when and how an issue of jurisdiction can be raised.
In spite of the above Supreme Court decisions, some courts have continued to follow the dictates of the rules of court in determining when and how an issue of jurisdiction can be raised. For instance, in the case of Peter Onuminya v. Oche Obe (unreported) Suit No: FHC/L/CS/1803/2015, the Federal High Court, Lagos Division, coram, Anka J. held on 11th of January, 2017 that the provisions of Order 29 Rule 4 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009 prescribing conditions for raising a jurisdictional question must be followed. The learned trial Judge relied on a Court of Appeal case decided on 3rd of July, 2015 – Gas Co. Ltd. v. Gas Land Co. Ltd. – CA/L/1200/2014. Although we do not support this Court of Appeal’s decision, it however touched specifically on Order 29 Rule 4 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009.

Termination of employment cannot frustrate contract for personal loan between employer and employee

Lewis v. UBA Plc [2016] 6 NWLR (Pt. 1508) 329 at 346-347, per Peter-Odili, JSC:

“… The contract of employment and personal loans between the appellant and the respondent are two distinct contracts having distinct subject matters and their duration not co-existent nor can it be said one is dependent on the other or that the right to terminate the contract of employment by either party could operate as a condition precedent to the repayment of the personal loan or the balance thereof.”

Blogger’s Note:

It is trite that in a single relationship between A and B, there may be series of other distinct contracts which run parallel. For instance, a mortgage contract is different from a loan contract or contract of sale of land. See U.B.A. Plc v. Abdullahi  [2003] 3 NWLR (Pt. 807) 359. See also, Emeka Chianu, Law of Securities for Bank Advances (Mortgage of Land)2nd ed., (Ambik Press: Benin, 2004), p. 3. Therefore, A and B can enter into an employment contract and yet enter into a contract of personal loan. Indeed these contracts are distinct.

Failure to reply a business letter can be fatal

Cooperative Dev. Bank Plc. v. Ekanem [2009] 16 NWLR (Pt. 1168) 585 at 601, paras. C-D, per Owoade JCA:

“In relation to the discussion between PW3 and the appellant’s company secretary, what was left for the learned trial Judge to say as a matter of law is that it is incumbent on a recipient of a business letter to reply as its default to reply can be presumed that it has no objections to the proposals contained therein…”

Blogger’s Note:

The principle in the above case does not operate to mean that in cases of contract for instance, silence would automatically mean acceptance of offer. Perhaps, it was in view of this that the Court of Appeal, per Owoade JCA, further explained at p. 601 paras. E-G that ‘in any event, it is trite that whether there has been an acceptance by one party of an offer made to him by the other may be collected from the words or documents that have passed between them or may be inferred from their conduct.