When Courts Must Refuse To Consider Issues/Applications Before It.

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When Courts Must Refuse To Consider Issues/Applications Before It. Daily Law Tips (Tip 651) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)

Where there are disputes, parties are allowed to approach a court of law for settlement of their dispute. Courts in Nigeria, have rights to entertain disputes of varying degrees and types and must rule and determine all issues raised by a party. However, there is an exception, where a court may refuse to rule on issues or applications before it. This work reveals the circumstances that may allow a court not to determine an issue/application before it. 

Jurisdiction is the power and the authority of a court to sit, entertain and determine a case. It is said to be the blood of any case. Without jurisdiction, a court and its activities in a case are invalid, unlawful, null and void. Since jurisdiction is the foundation of any case, where it is lacking, any concerned case must fail and fall. You cannot keep something on nothing. 

Although, every court must determine all issues and applications presented before it, no matter how stupid they may be, there is an exception to this. Where there is no jurisdiction, a court cannot proceed with the determination of any case, issue or application before it. The only thing a court can do, when or where it lacks jurisdiction is to strike out the case, so that a rather competent court with jurisdiction can entertain and determine the case. 

The appellate courts, have at several times, upheld this position. Below are the words of the appellate courts; 

  1. ”It is apothegmatic that a Court should consider and determine all issues properly raised before it. But in certain circumstances, it would be unnecessary so to do. These circumstances include where the decision appealed against is declared a nullity for want of jurisdiction. This is so because such issues may possibly arise in a fresh action before a Court seised with jurisdiction. See BRAWAL SHIPPING (NIG) LTD vs. F. I. ONWADIKE CO. LTD (2000) LPELR (802) 1 At 13-15, EDEM vs. CANON BALLS LTD (2005) 12 NWLR (PT 938) 27, SHASI vs. SMITH (2009) 18 NWLR (PT 1173) 330 at 356 and IFEKAUDU vs. IBEAGWA (2012) LPELR (14436) 1 at 19-20.  “…The abecedarian law is that the proper order to make where it is held that a Court has no jurisdiction is to strike out the case: ADESOKAN vs. ADETUNJI (1994) 6 SCNJ 123, ADELEKAN vs. ECU-LINE NV (2006) 6 SC (PT II) 32 and FHA vs OLAYEMI (supra) at 56-57.” Per UGOCHUKWU ANTHONY OGAKWU ,J.C.A ( P. 44, paras. B-F ) in the case of FIRST DEEPWATER DISCOVERY LTD & ANOR v. FAICECK PETROLEUM LTD (2020) LPELR-49783(CA).
  2. “It is trite law, that it is the duty of a court to entertain and decide on the merit, any application brought before it by any party, notwithstanding the perceived strength or weakness of such an application. The application may be downright stupid or unmeritorious, but it must be heard. A refusal by a Court to hear a motion is a breach of a right to fair hearing guaranteed under the Constitution. The refusal of the Court to hear the appellant’s motion or make pronouncement on it in its judgment is a violation of the appellant’s right to fair hearing and has occasioned a miscarriage of justice. See Newswatch Communications Limited v. Atta (supra) at 168 170, Onyekwuluje v. Animashaun (1996) 3 NWLR (Pt 439) 637, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited & Anor. v. Chief Simeon Monokpo & Ors. (2003) 12 SCNJ 206 at 215, Nalsa & Team Associates v. N.N.P.C. (1991) 8 NWLR (Pt. 212) 652, Otapo v. Sunmonu (1987) 2 NWLR (Pt. 58) 587, Afro Continental (Nigeria) Limited & Anor. v. Co-operation Association of Professionals Incorporation (2003) 1 SCNJ 530 at 531.” Per ADAMU JAURO ,J.C.A ( Pp. 17-18, para. A ) in the case of IFEKAUDU v. IBEAGWA (2012) LPELR-14436(CA)

Click to read other works on courts in Nigeria.

My authorities are:

  1. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the case of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited & Anor. v. Chief Simeon Monokpo & Ors. (2003) 12 SCNJ 206 at 215,
  2. The judgment of the Court of Appeal in the case of FIRST DEEPWATER DISCOVERY LTD & ANOR v. FAICECK PETROLEUM LTD (2020) LPELR-49783(CA)
  3. The judgement of the Court of Appeal in the case of IFEKAUDU v. IBEAGWA (2012) LPELR-14436(CA)

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