ICPC Act

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.
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