PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE – ISSUE OF JURISDICTION – Attitude/Approach of Court where the issue of jurisdiction is raised in an appeal filed out of time


“The learned Senior counsel for the Respondents, L. E. Nwosu, SAN had argued that the appellant did not comply with Order 2 Rule 31(2) (c) of the Supreme Court Rules in that it failed to show a prima facie reason for the delay in bringing this appeal. May I state here that right from the trial Bori High Court, issue of the jurisdiction of the Court was raised as to the non – juristic nature of the Appellant. That issue was also heard by the Court below. The same issue occupies an eminent position in the Notice of Appeal to this Court. Therefore, as was decided by this Court in Adigwe v Federal Republic of Nigeria (2015) 18 NWLR (pt 1490) 05, where the ground or grounds of appeal has challenged the jurisdiction of the Court to entertain a suit, the Court has to adopt a permissive approach in considering the reason for the delay in order not to shut out an Appellant with an arguable appeal. Any matter which touches on the jurisdiction of the trial Court, or any other Court for that matter, is never too late for an appellant to seek redress from a higher Court. On page 145 of the report, this Court went further to hold that:- “However, the requirement of the duality of good and substantial reasons for the delay and grounds of appeal which prima facie show good cause why the appeal should be heard, is subject to an exception: when an issue of jurisdiction is raised in the ground of appeal, the requirement of good and substantial reason for the delay may be dispensed with. This is so because the issue of jurisdiction is so radical in nature and at the foundation of adjudication that it cannot be defeated by the provision of rules of Court. See S. O. Akegbejo & Ors v Dr. D. O. Ataga & 3 Ors (1998) 1 NWLR (pt 534) page 459 – 469.proceedings conducted without jurisdiction will be a nullity.” See also Onashile v ldowu (1961) 2 SCNLR 53, Anadi v Okoli (1977) 7 SC 57, Ukwu v Bunge (1997) B NWLR (pt 518) 527. In exhibit 2 attached to the motion of the Appellant, which is the Notice of Appeal, Grounds 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,7, 8 and 9, all of which individually and collectively, raise jurisdictional issues, it becomes apparent that the appellant’s right of appeal deserves to be protected and/or guaranteed by this Court, given the jurisdictionally flavoured grounds of appeal in the Notice of appeal. See Adigwe v Federal Republic of Nigeria (supra), FBN Plc v May Medical Clinics (2001) 9 NWLR (pt 717) 28 at 44 paragraphs F – H, Akiti v Oyekunle (2018) LPELR – 43721 (SC).” Per OKORO, J.S.C. in FIRST BANK OF NIGERIA PLC v. CHIEF ISAAC OSARO & ORS (2020-LCER-39156-SC) at p. 15 – p. 17

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