PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE – ABUSE OF COURT/JUDICIAL PROCESS(ES) – Meaning of frivolous action and attitude of Court to same; power of Court to dismiss suits which are frivolous, vexatious or constitutes an abuse of Court process


“An action may be dismissed and judgment entered for the defence if it is shown from the pleadings to be frivolous and vexatious: Fidelis Nwadinlo – Civil Procedure In Nigeria (2nd ed) page 425. Usually it is said to be frivolous when its filing serves no other purpose than merely wasting the time of the Court and all concerned. Such action is said to be “without substance or groundless or fanciful”: BULLEN LEAK & JACOB’S PRECEDENTS OF PLEADINGS 12TH; P. 145; WILLIS v. EARL BEAUCHAMP (1886) 11 PD 39. ?Either under Order 24 Rule 4 or Order 25 Rule 20 of the extant Rules of the trial High Court the said trial Court empowered to dismiss a suit and enter judgment for the defendant where the suit was found to be frivolous, vexatious or an abuse of the Court process. In MACDAUGALL v. KNIGHT (1890) QB 25 the defendant was held entitled to the plea of estoppel rem judicatam on the fact of the previous suit terminated having been found to be frivolous and vexatious. Certainly, on these expositions I should hold, and I hereby hold, that the semantics of when a decision is on the merits and when it is not on the merits – KOSSEN v. SAVANNAH BANK (supra) and OBASI BROS v. MBA SECURITY (supra), would not avail the Appellant in the peculiar circumstances of this case. Frivolous and vexatious suits are always driven by the mindset to abuse the due process of Court and administration of justice. The Courts frown at such conduct. No litigant has any vested right to bring or continue proceedings which abuse judicial process by way of a frivolous or vexatious action. Accordingly, the Courts have inherent powers to check such perversion of its process by terminating it in limine: ADESANOYE v. ADEWOLE (2000) 9 NWLR (pt. 671) 127 at 153; YUSUF v. AKINDIPE (2000) 8NWLR (pt. 669) 376 at 387 – 388. The appropriate order to make when abuse of process is manifest is an order dismissing the offensive or perversive action or process: ARUBO v. AIYELERU (1993) 3 NWLR (PT. 229) 126 at 142. Per EKO, JSC inADEGBANKE v. OJELABI & ORS (2021-LCER-40456-SC) (Pp 43 – 45 Paras C – A)

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