EVIDENCE – ESTOPPEL PER REM JUDICATAM/RES JUDICATA – Whether an issue of res judicata is a jurisdictional issue that can be raised anytime


“The Appellants have argued albeit in error that the issue of estoppel rem judicata was not raised by any of the Respondents at the trial Court and no leave was obtained from the Court below to raise same as a fresh point of law to which end, the decision of their lordships should be set aside. They rely on the case of Bello v. Aruwa (1999) 8 NWLR (Pt. 615) 454, and Nigeria Breweries Ltd v. Obioha (1999) 6 BNWLR (Pt. 605) 115. The arguments of the appellant are certainly from a wrong place. It has been demonstrated that the issue of res judicata was raised by the 2nd respondent and being an issue of jurisdiction, it can be raised at anytime. In IGBEKE v. OKADIGBO & ORS (2013) LPELR-20664(SC) Per GALADIMA, J.S.C, the Supreme Court held thus: “A plea of res judicata is a jurisdictional issue by which a Court of law is being asked not to assume jurisdiction. A preliminary objection when successfully utilized is capable of determining the proceedings in limine. See AYUYA v. YONRIN (2011) 10 NWLR (Pt.1254) 135 AT 160-160, UKAEGBU v. UGOJI (1991) 6 NWLR (Pt.196) 127 at 44 and KWARI v. RAGO (2000) FWLR (Pt.22) 1121 at 1142. In OMOKHAFE V. ESEKHOMO (1993) LPELR-2649(SC) Per Karibi Whyte, JSC at P.25, this Court held thus: “A successful plea of res judicata operates not only against the parties whom it affects, but also ousts the jurisdiction of the Court by the parties and their privies on the same issues and subject matter.” (Emphasis mine) Similarly, in UKAEGBU & ORS V. UGOJI & ORS (1991) LPELR- 3338(SC) Per BABALAKIN, J.S.C. at P.23, this Court held that:- “Res judicata on the other hand, operated not only against the party whom it affects, but also against the jurisdiction of the Court itself. The party affected is estopped per rem judicatam from bringing a fresh claim before the Court. At the same time, the jurisdiction of the Court to hear such claim is ousted.” Per MARY UKAEGO PETER-ODILI, JSC in ADALMA TANKERS BUNKERING SERVICES LTD & ANOR v. CBN & ORS (2022-LCER-46528-SC) (Pp 62 – 63; Paras A – E)

Add to LawKit (0)