PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE – SIGNING OF COURT PROCESS(ES) – Effect of a court process signed in the name of a law firm

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“Now, the 1st Respondent has argued that the originating processes were incompetent as they were signed in the name of a law firm. The relevant statutory provisions in this regard are Sections 2(1) and 24 of the Legal Practitioners Act. The provisions are reproduced hereunder as follows: “2. (1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, a person shall be entitled to practise as a barrister and solicitor if, and only if, his name is on the roll. 24. “Legal Practitioner” means a person entitled in accordance with the provisions of this Act to practise as a barrister or as a barrister and solicitor, either generally or for the purposes of any particular office or proceedings.” There is no gainsaying that the law firm of “Ahua Albert Yawe & Co” is not a person whose name is on the roll of Legal Practitioners in the Supreme Court of Nigeria. It is equally not up for debate that the law firm of “Ahua Albert Yawe & Co” is not a person entitled to practice in accordance with the provisions of the Legal Practitioners Act. In other words, a law firm or a firm of legal practitioners is not within the contemplation of Sections 2(1) and 24 of the Legal Practitioners Act. Hence, not only is a law firm incapable of signing an originating process, a law firm falls short of the requirements of a person capable of signing any Court process whatsoever. The implication of the foregoing is that such originating processes or Court processes are incompetent and they are certain to be struck out. In a situation where the processes afflicted with the malady of fundamental defect is an originating process, the whole proceedings conducted thereon, including appellate proceedings would amount to a nullity and a time-wasting exercise. See OKAFOR V. NWEKE (supra), AJIBODE & ORS V. GBADAMOSI & ORS (2021) LPELR – 53089 (SC), SALAMI V. MUSE (2019) LPELR-47038 (SC), S.L.B. CONSORTIUM LTD V. NNPC (2011) 9 NWLR (PT. 1252) 317, WHILZY IND. (NIG) LTD V. UBA PLC (2014) ALL FWLR (PT. 741) 1580, ALAWIYE V. OGUNSANYA (2014) ALL FWLR (PT. 668) 800, MIN. OF WORKS AND TRANSPORT ADAMAWA STATE V. YAKUBU (2013) 6 NWLR (PT. 1351) 481, F.B.N. PLC V. MAIWADA (2013) 5 NWLR (PT. 1348) 444, BRAITHWAITE V. SKYE BANK PLC (2013) 5 NWLR (PT. 1346) 1 AND YUSUF V. MOBIL OIL (NIG) PLC (2020) 3 NWLR (PT. 1710) 1. I say this because only a natural person can satisfy the requirements of the Act regarding becoming a legal practitioner such as attending the Nigerian Law School, being issued with a certificate of call to the bar and enrolment at the Supreme Court as provided in Sections 4 and 7 of the Legal Practitioners Act.” Per ADAMU JAURO, JSC in YONGO & ORS v. HAANONGON & ORS (2022-LCER-46535-SC) (Pp 9 – 11; Paras C – D)

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