PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE – ABUSE OF COURT/JUDICIAL PROCESS(ES) – What constitutes abuse of Court process

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“On the concept of abuse of Court process, a long line of judicial authorities has explained it since the concept of abuse of judicial process is imprecise and involves circumstances and situations of infinite variety and conditions. This will arise in instituting a multiplicity of actions on the same subject matter against the same opponent on the same issues. See SARAKI V KOTOYE (1992) 9 NWLR (PT. 264) 156 at 188. See: OKORODUDU VS OKOROMADU (1977) 3 SC 21; OYEGBOLA VS WEST AFRICA (1966) 1 ALL NLR 170. It follows that, the multiplicity of actions on the same subject matter between the same parties even where exist a right to bring the actions is regarded as an abuse. The abuse lies in the multiplicity and manner of the exercise of the right rather than the exercise of the right per se as in this case where the Appellant had filed the instant suit between the same parties in respect of the same subject matter and issues as in Suit No. HOY/7/97 that had been dismissed. That dismissal of suit No. HOY/7/97 had not only put an end to the Appellant’s claim but also created a bar to subsequent claims. I place reliance on the following authorities – OGBECHIE & ORS VS ONOCHIE & ORS (1988) 1 NWLR (PT.70) 370 AT 395; ERONINI & ORS VS IHEUKO (1989) 2 NWLR (PT.101) 46 AT 60; REGISTERED TRUSTEES OF IFELOJU FRIENDLY UNION VS ALHAJA BEWAJI KUKU (1991) 5 NWLR (PT. 189) 65 AT 79. All sections of Ajayi family were parties to Suit No. HOY/7/97 and so are bound by the judgment in the said suit. See: OKONJI VS NJOKANMA (1989) 4 NWLR (PT. 114) 161 AT 166 – 167; OTAPO VS SUNMONU (1987) 2 N WLR (PT.58) AT 623. The fact that oral evidence was not led in support of the Appellant’s pleading in Suit No. HOY/7/97 is not a justification for holding that the suit was dismissed in limine and not on merit.” Per PETER-ODILI, JSC inADEGBANKE v. OJELABI & ORS (2021-LCER-40456-SC) (Pp 25 – 26 Paras B – E)

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