HASSAN ABDULRAHMAN & ANOR. v. EMMANUEL OYAMENDAN & ANOR.(2005)

HASSAN ABDULRAHMAN & ANOR. v. EMMANUEL OYAMENDAN & ANOR.

(2005)LCN/1737(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Friday, the 13th day of May, 2005

CA/K/280/2001

 

JUSTICES

MAHMUD MOHAMMED   Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

ABUBAKAR ABDULKADIR JEGA   Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

STANLEY SHENKO ALAGOA   Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

Between

 

  1. HASSAN ABDULRAHMAN
    (RECEIVER/MANAGER)
    TANAREWA NIGERIA LIMITED
    2. TANAREWA NIGERIA LIMITED
    (IN RECEIVERSHIP) Appellant(s)

AND

  1. EMMANUEL OYAMENDAN
    2. EARTH WORKERS NIGERIA LTD Respondent(s)

ALAGOA, J.C.A. (Delivering the Leading Judgment): This is an appeal against the ruling of Hobon J. of the Federal High Court Kano Division, which was delivered on the 30th April, 2001. The facts leading to this appeal as can be gleaned from the printed record and the briefs of the parties are briefly set out hereunder as follows. The present respondents as plaintiffs in the court below took out a writ of civil summons against the appellants, then defendants, on the 4th January, 1999, the particulars of claim of which are reproduced below:
Particulars of Claim
“The plaintiff’s claim against the defendants are as follows:
1. A declaration that the 1st defendant’s-seizure of the 1st plaintiff’s Mercedes Benz car in the purported exercise of the 1st defendant’s powers as receiver of the 2nd defendant is illegal, null and an abuse of his power.
2. An order of the court directing the defendants to return the 1st plaintiff’s Mercedes Benz 230 series car with registration No. K 4994, which was unlawfully and forcefully taken from the 1st plaintiff and his driver by the defendants at the premises of Tan Arewa Nigeria Limited Sharada on 9/1/99.
3. An order directing the defendant to return to the plaintiff’s the sum of N720,000.00 (Seven hundred and twenty thousand Naira) meant for the purchase of spare parts for the repair of Caterpillar Bulldozer and Scraper contained in the above mentioned car, which is still being unlawfully detained in Tan Arewa (Nigeria) Ltd. Premises Sharada Phase 1, Kano.
4. The sum of N3,000.00 (Three thousand Naira) per day, being expended daily by the plaintiffs as taxi fare since the illegal seizure and detention of their car.
5. The sum of N2,000,000.00 (Two million Naira) compensation for inconveniences, hardship and loss of business suffered by the plaintiffs as a result of illegal action.
6. A declaration that the contract of service between the plaintiffs and the 2nd defendant Tan Arewa (Nigeria) Limited is still subsisting.
7. The sum of N100,000 (One hundred thousand Naira) special damages for the amount of work already carried out by the plaintiffs.
8. The sum of N500,000.00 (Five hundred thousand Naira) general damages for breach of contract.”
Pleadings were thereafter filed, the respondents then plaintiffs filing their statement of claim dated 18th March, 1999, same day, while the appellants then defendants with leave of court following an application for extension of time to do so, filed their statement of defence dated 11th August, 1999, on the 12th August, 1999, thereby joining issues with the present respondents. However, the appellants by a motion on notice dated the 25th September, 2000, and filed on the 13th October, 2000, prayed the lower court to strike out the suit for want of jurisdiction. Paragraph 3(a)-(d) of the affidavit in support to this motion are instructive and quite germane to this discourse and reads as follows-
“3(a) That pleadings in this suit have long been exchanged and the suit already fixed for hearing.
(b) That on a thorough and further perusal of the plaintiff’s statement of claim, it is evident that the plaintiffs seek for declaratory orders in respect of same alleged actions of the 1st defendant as a receiver.
(c) The plaintiffs also claim for special and general damages for inconveniences for the purported or rather the alleged acts of the receiver.
(d) That as a matter of fact the plaintiff’s claim falls outside the scope of the jurisdiction of this court.”
The respondents reacted by filing a counter affidavit deposed to on the 10th November, 2000. Paragraph 4(a) – (e) are pertinent and reads as follows-
“(a) That the 1st respondent is the receiver/manager over the 2nd defendant’s floating assets.
(b) That in the bid to recover the alleged N304,000 as receiver of the 2nd defendant from the plaintiffs, he seized the 1st plaintiff’s Mercedes Benz car with registration No. 4994 with the sum of N720,000 therein.
(c) That the act of the 1st defendant above was carried out by him in the exercise of his power and function as a receiver/manager of the 2nd defendant.
(d) That the reliefs being sought by the plaintiffs in their statement of claim arose from the act of the 1st defendant as receiver/manager in paragraph 4(b) hereof.
(e) That the claim of the plaintiffs/respondents is that within the exclusive jurisdiction of this court.”
Arguments were canvassed on both sides and in a considered ruling delivered on the 30th April, 2001, the learned trial Judge dismissed the application.
It is against this ruling, that the appellants have appealed to the Court of Appeal on a solitary ground contained in the notice of appeal dated the 5th June, 2001. The said ground reads as follows –
“The learned trial Judge erred in law, when he held that the Federal High Court is vested with jurisdiction to entertain the respondent’s claim for the reason that the claim arose in the course of the receiver’s (1st appellant) exercise of his statutory duties.”
Particulars of Error
“(a) The alleged tortious act of the receiver to wit; seizing , the plaintiff’s car even though done in the course of his statutory duties as a receiver, is not a matter arising from the operations of the CAMA 1990 as amended.
(b) The Federal High Court lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate on any dispute, arising from contractual obligation between individuals and Companies.
(c) It is the statement of claim that determines jurisdiction not the fact that the acts complained of were the acts of a receiver in the course of his statutory duties as such.
Reliefs sought from the Court of Appeal
(a) To set aside the ruling of the trial court in its entirety.
(b) To strike out the plaintiff’s case.”
Out of this sole ground of appeal contained in the notice of appeal herein before referred to, the appellants formulated the following three issues for the determination of this court. They are as follows:
‘Issue No.1-
Whether the turtuous (sic) act of the receiver- as alleged by the respondents in the present case can be said to be a matter “arising from the operations of Companies and Allied Matters Act…” and thus, within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.
Issue No.2
Whether the Federal High Court is vested with jurisdiction to adjudicate on disputes arising from contract between two companies.
Issue No.3 –
Whether having regard to the respondents’ statement of claim in the instant case, the Federal High Court is vested with jurisdiction to entertain the suit.”
These issues are contained in appellants’ brief of argument dated 13th November, 2001, and deemed filed and served on the 16th April, 2002, following a motion on notice dated the 13th November, 2001, and filed on the 19th November, 2001, granted by this court for an extension of time to file the said brief out of time and to deem same as duly filed and served, the appropriate legal filing fees having been paid.
The appellant also filed a reply brief dated 5th October, 2004, and deemed filed and served on the 14th October, 2004.
The respondents’ brief is dated the 30th May, 2002, and was filed on the 31st May, 2002. Incorporated in the brief is a preliminary objection, praying this court to strike out the three issues formulated in the appellants’ brief of argument for being incompetent and also to strike out the entire brief of argument of the appellants for being incompetent. In the event, that the preliminary objection fails, he has formulated the following solitary issue for the determination by this court –
“Whether the act of the appellant wanting to recover an alleged N304,000 as receiver of the 2nd appellant from the 1st respondent, is not a matter involving the management of the 2nd appellant and its assets a company duly incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act?”
When this appeal came up for hearing on the 14th February, 2005, counsel for the appellants Sunday Olowomuran adopted the appellants’ brief and reply briefs. He urged this court to allow the appeal. Counsel for the respondents C. A. Adolor also adopted the respondents’ brief. He urged this court to uphold the preliminary objection and strike out the issues as formulated in the appellants’ brief and if the preliminary objection fails, he urged this court to dismiss the appeal, based on the issue for determination contained in the respondents’ brief.
I shall proceed to consider first of all the preliminary objection of the respondents. The prayer of the respondents here is for this court to strike out the three issues formulated in the appellants’ brief of argument for being incompetent in the sense that they are completely unrelated to and do not arise from the ground of appeal contained in the notice of appeal. It is submitted by the respondents in their brief of argument at page 3 that an issue for determination in an appeal which has no ground of appeal to support it is useless and liable to be struck out. The following authorities were relied upon in support of this contention – C.C.B Ltd. v. Nwokocha (1998) 9 NWLR (Pt. 564) page 98 at 124 paras A – B; Godwin v. Christ Apostolic Church (1998) 14 NWLR (Pt. 584) page 162 at 174 paras E – F.
In reply to the preliminary objection, the appellants at pages 2 – 5 of their reply brief have submitted that the respondents have not complied with the provision of Order 3 rule 15(1) of the Court of Appeal rules, 2002, for hearing an appeal which stipulates that a respondent intending to rely upon a preliminary objection to the hearing of an appeal shall give the appellant three clear days notice thereof before the hearing setting out the grounds of objection.
Appellants’ counsel further submitted that, while it is proper to incorporate a preliminary objection in a brief as in the instant case, the respondent must also file a notice of intention to rely on a preliminary objection and that no such notice had been filed by the respondents. He urged the court to refuse to entertain the objection and relied on the following cases in support –
Mohammed v. Nwobodo (2000) FWLR (Pt.15) Page 2546 at 2548 ratio 1; Kalu v. Odili (1992) 5 NWLR (Pt. 240) page 130; Agbaka v. Amadi (1998) 11 NWLR (Pt. 572) page 16. Rules of court must be obeyed, appellant’s counsel further submitted. On the issues formulated by the appellants in their brief, it was contended by the appellants that they are related to and arise from the ground of appeal filed and contained at page 48 of the printed record, i.e. the notice of appeal. Conceding that it is improper to formulate three issues for determination by this court out of a sole ground of appeal, the appellants on page 3 of their reply brief of argument urged this court to consider the brief, though inelegantly drafted in the determination of this appeal and referred to the case of Tukur v. Govt. of Taraba State (1997) 6 NWLR (Pt. 510) page 549 in support of this contention. The appellants submitted on page 4 of their reply brief of argument that issues 2 and 3 of their brief are a repetition of issue 1 of their brief as both raise the issue of jurisdiction, which urged the court to hold that the three issues for determination are the same and can be compressed into one issue. The appellants therefore urged the court to strike out the respondents’ objection and determine the appeal on its merits.
Order 3 rule 15(1) of the Court of Appeal rules, 2002 states as follows:
“A respondent intending to rely upon a preliminary objection to the hearing of the appeal shall give the appellant three clear days notice thereof before the hearing, setting out the grounds of objection, and shall file such notice together with twenty copies thereof with the Registrar within the same time.”
Order 3 rule 15(3) deals with the effect of non-compliance and states as follows:
“If respondent fails to comply with this rule the court may refuse to entertain the objection or may adjourn the hearing thereof at the cost of the respondent or may make such order as it thinks fit.”
There is no doubt that the respondents have failed to comply with the provisions of order 3 rule 15(1) both as to the giving of a three clear days notice and also with respect to filing a separate notice of preliminary objection, the incorporation of the notice of preliminary objection in the respondents’ brief of argument not withstanding. I therefore, have no hesitation in refusing the objection and striking same out.
I shall now proceed to deal with the appeal proper. The sole ground of appeal as contained in the Notice of Appeal at page 48 of the printed record if only from the point of emphasis is restated thus:
“The learned trial Judge erred in law, when he held that the Federal High Court is vested with jurisdiction to entertain the respondents’ claim for the reason that the claim arose in the course of the receiver’s (1st appellant) exercise of his statutory duties.”
The three issues formulated from this sole ground were stated earlier in this judgment. Even by the appellants’ own admission, the said issues are inelegantly drafted, but from a proper reading, I do not agree with the respondents’ contention that they are completely unrelated to nor arise from the ground of appeal as they raise the issue of the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to entertain this matter. The issues though slipshod or sloppy in their construction are undoubtedly germane to the ground of appeal if construed as a whole. Both parties are agreed on one point and that is that it is the statement of claim that determines the jurisdiction of the court. See generally the following cases – Oseni v. Dawodu (1994) 4 SCNJ 197; (1994) 4 NWLR (Pt.339) 390; Ogoto v. I. N. B. (1995) 9 NWLR (Pt. 419) page 314; A.C.B. Ltd. v. Gwagwada (1994) 4 SCNJ 269; (1994) 5 NWLR (Pt.342) 25.
If that is the position of the law and I dare say that it is from the plethora of decided cases, it then becomes imperative, though cumbersome, to reproduce the entire statement of claim. This is contained on pages 5 – 9 of the printed record and are reproduced hereunder as follows-
“Statement of Claim
1. The 1st plaintiff is a shareholder and the Chief Executive of the 2nd plaintiff.
2. The 2nd plaintiff is a limited liability company registered under the laws of Nigeria, dealing on generators and other earth moving equipment.
3. The 1st defendant is the receiver/manager of the 2nd defendant and he is a legal practitioner.
4. The 2nd defendant is a limited liability company whose registered office is at Sharada Phase 1, Kano, and does tanning work.
5. The plaintiffs aver that in July, 1998, the 2nd defendant awarded the 2nd defendant plaintiff the contract to overhaul its generators.
6. The 2nd plaintiff avers that it gave its quotation covering materials and labour to the 2nd defendant in respect of the job.
7. The plaintiffs aver that the total contract sum for the overhaul of the 2nd defendant’s generators was N1,126,399.50, including labour.
8. The plaintiffs aver that it gave a discount of 10% to the 2nd defendant and the contract sum became N1,013,759.55. The quotation dated 7th August, 1998, is hereby pleaded.
9. The plaintiffs aver that the 2nd defendant agreed to pay the money in three instalments.
10. The 2nd plaintiff avers that the 2nd defendant paid the first instalment of N304,000 to it, to enable it purchase the first batch of spare parts for the overhaul of the generators.
11. The 2nd plaintiff avers that it purchased the spare parts and had already dismantled the generators for overhauling.
12. The 2nd plaintiff avers that when it requested for the second instalment to complete the purchase of the spare parts, the 2nd defendant surprisingly went into receivership, the 1st defendant being the receiver.
13. The 1st plaintiff avers that on 6th January, 1999, the 1st defendant called on phone and asked him to report to him at the pt defendant’s premises and he promised to meet the 2nd defendant on 8th January, 1999.
14. The plaintiffs aver that as the 1st plaintiff was about to go to the 2nd defendant on 8/1/99, the 1st plaintiff suddenly saw the receiver (1st defendant) with a policeman coming to his office and he (1st plaintiff) was asked to follow the receiver to the 2nd defendant’s premises in the 1st plaintiff’s car.
15. The 1st plaintiff avers that on their way to the defendants’ office at Sharada, he was diverted to the Sharada Police Station by the receiver (1st defendant) and the policeman who accompanied him and as the DPO was not in the office, the 1st plaintiff was then taken to the defendants’ office.
16. The plaintiffs aver that in the defendants’ office at Sharada, the 1st defendant told the 1st plaintiff to refund the sum of N304,000, which was paid to him by the 2nd defendant as first instalment for the purchase of generator spare parts.
17. The 1st plaintiff avers that he told the 1st defendant that the 2nd plaintiff had already bought spare parts with the money, to carry out the overhaul of the generators and requested the receiver to pay the second instalment to purchase the remaining spare parts for the job.
18. The plaintiffs aver that the 1st defendant told the 1st plaintiff that he was not interested in the overhaul of the generators and insisted on the refund of the sum of N304,000 thereby, purporting to have unilaterally terminated the contract.
19. The plaintiffs aver that at that juncture, the 1st defendant told the police officer, who accompanied him to take the 1st plaintiff back to the Sharada police station and he was taken back to the police station.
20. The plaintiffs aver that the 1st plaintiff was taken before the DPO Sharada Police Station and the DPO told the 1st plaintiff to sell the spare parts already purchased to refund the money.
21. The plaintiffs aver that the 1st plaintiff then told the DPO that it was difficult to sell the spare parts.
22. That the DPO then told the 1st plaintiff to go back and meet the receiver (1st defendant) in his office at the 2nd defendant’s premises and the 1st plaintiff complied.
23. The 1st plaintiff avers that when he met the 1st defendant in his office at the 2nd defendant’s premises, the 1st defendant told him to sell the spare parts already purchased and to refund the money paid to him.
24. That he told the 1st defendant that it was difficult to sell the spare parts.
25. The 1st plaintiff avers that the 1st defendant then asked him, whether he had received a letter from his office and he (1st plaintiff) said no.
26. That the 1st defendant left him in the 1st defendant’s office to go and produce a copy of the purported letter referred to in paragraph 25 above, but the 1st defendant later came back to the office without any letter.
27. The 1st plaintiff avers that the receiver (1st defendant) then ordered him to go out of his office and to refund the money, in question.
28. The 1st plaintiff avers that when he came out of the receiver  (1st defendant’s) office, he discovered this utmost surprise that the receiver had ordered his security men to push his Mercedes Benz car 230 series with registration No. K 4994, which his driver packed outside the 2nd defendant’s premises into the premises after forcing out the person who was with him in the car.
29. The 1st plaintiff avers that the 1st defendant forcefully seized his car without any lawful jurisdiction.
30. The 1st defendant avers that he kept the sum of N20.000 (Seven hundred and twenty thousand naira) in the car and the money was meant for the purchase of sparer parts for the repairs of caterpillar bulldozer and a scrapper which were being parked in his workshop.
31. That despite his partner’s resistance, the 1st defendant forcefully seized the car with the sum of N720.000, kept in the car and pleaded to be allowed to remove the money, but the 1st defendant refused and he had to take a taxi back to his office with great displeasure.
32. That the 1st plaintiff personally told her the 1st defendant of the sum of N720.000 kept in the car and pleaded to be allowed to remove the money, but the 1st defendant refused and he had to take a taxi back to his office with great displeasure.
Particulars
(a) That out of the N720,000, Five hundred thousand Naira (N500,000) was for the purchase of spare parts for the repair of the bulldozer.
(b) That the balance of N250,000 was meant for the purchase of spare parts for the repair of the scraper.
(c) That he had already spent N30,000 out of the N250,000 to purchase perishable materials for the scraper.
d) That the money was the amount collected for sale of spare parts and services rendered to customers.
(e) All relevant receipts are hereby pleaded.
33. The 1st plaintiff avers that when he protested to the 1st defendant, concerning the seizure of his car with the money inside, he asked him to go away and to come back to retrieve the car whenever he pays the sum of N304,000 given to him by the 2nd defendant for the purchase of spare parts to repair the generators.
34. The plaintiff avers that since the seizure of his car on 8/1/99, he has been hiring taxi cab on daily basis to enable him carry out his business both within and outside Kano State.
35. That he expends the sum of N3,000 approximately daily for hiring taxi since the 8th January, 1999, when his car was seized from him and he traveled to Abuja, Minna and Kaduna, in a hired car after the seizure of his car by the defendants.
Particulars
(a) Journey to Abuja for 4 days – N25,000
(b) Journey to Minna for 4 days – N28,000
(c) Journey to Kaduna for 3 days – N18,000
(f) Local running in Kano on daily basis at N3,000 per day from the 8th January, 1999. All the relevant receipts in respect of the car hire are hereby pleaded.
36. The 1st plaintiff avers that after the seizure of his car, the receiver (1st defendant) wrote him a letter dated 13th January, 1999, admitting that a service contract exists between the 2nd plaintiff and the 2nd defendant.
37. The plaintiffs aver that the 1st defendant has admitted seizing the 1st plaintiff’s car in his letter referred to in paragraph 36 above. The letter dated 13th January, 1999, is hereby pleaded and will be founded upon at the trial of this suit.
38. The 1st plaintiff avers that when he went to collect the car, the defendant refused to hand over the car to him because he has filed an action in the court.
39. The plaintiffs aver that up till now the car with the sum of N720,000 is still being held by the defendant.
40. The plaintiffs aver that the illegal action of the defendants has caused them great inconveniences, hardship and loss of business.
Whereof the plaintiff claim jointly and severally from the defendant as follows:
a) A declaration that the 1st defendant’s seizure of the 1st plaintiff Mercedes Benz car with registration No. K4994 with the sum of N720,000 therein in the purported exercise of the 1st defendant’s powers as a receiver of the 2nd defendant is illegal, null and an abuse of his power.
b) An order of court directing the defendants to return the 1st plaintiff’s Mercedes Benz 230 series car with registration K4994, which was unlawfully and forcefully taken from the 1st plaintiff and his partner by the defendants at the premises of Tan Arewa Nigeria Limited Sharada on 8/1/99.
c) An order directing the defendants to return to them (plaintiffs) the sum of N720,000 (Seven hundred and twenty thousand Naira) meant for the purchase of spare parts for the repair of caterpillar bulldozer and a scraper contained in the above mentioned car which is still being unlawfully detained in Tan Arewa (Nig.) Limited premises Sharada Phase 1 Kano.
d) The sum being expended daily by the plaintiffs for the hire of taxi cab for local running at the cost of N3,000 per day since the illegal seizure from 8/1/99.
e) The sum of N71,000 being the cost of hire of taxi cab to undertake journeys to Abuja, Minna and Kaduna.
f) A declaration that the contract of service between the plaintiff and the 2nd defendant (Tan Arewa Nig. Ltd.) is still subsisting.
g) The sum of N100,000 (One hundred thousand Naira) for amount of work already carried out by the plaintiffs in overhauling the 2nd defendant’s generators.
h) The sum of N5,000,000 general damages for the unlawful seizure and detention of the plaintiffs’ car and money and for breach of contract.
Dated this 18th day of March, 1999.
(Sgd)
PP: C.A. Adolor & sea.
Plaintiffs’ Solicitors
100/104 M/M Way
Kano
For Service on the Defendants:
1. Hassan Abdulrahman
Receiver Manager
Tan Arewa Nig. Ltd.
Sharada Phase 1
Kano
2. Tan Arewa Nig. Ltd., (In Receivership)
Sharada Industrial Estate
Phase 1
Kano.”
It will thus be seen from a number of paragraphs of the statement of claim notably, but not limited to paragraphs 12-18 and 27-29 that recovery of the said sum of N304,000 by the 1st appellant on behalf of the 2nd appellant’s company was paramount. The 1st appellant was undoubtedly acting with respect to the ambit of the powers conferred on him by the instrument appointing him under the Company and Allied Matters Act, 1990. The learned trial Judge in the ruling had noted thus,
“Careful perusal of paragraph 3(b) of the appellants’ supporting affidavit along with paragraph 4 of the respondents’ counter-affidavit tallied with the statement of claim and the submissions of the two learned Counsel that the whole action is attacking the acts of the 1st defendant as a receiver manager of the 2nd defendant company and therefore a matter involving management of the assets of a company incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act.”
I cannot agree more. Both paragraphs referred to had earlier been reproduced in this judgment. That was why the learned trial Judge queried the basis for the submission by learned Counsel for the applicant that the Federal High Court lacked jurisdiction, to entertain the matter in view of Section 251(1)(e) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, which vests jurisdiction exclusively to the Federal High Court with respect to civil causes and matters arising from the operation of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990.
The said Section 251(1)(e) of the Constitution provides as follow-
“Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in this Constitution and in addition to such other jurisdiction as may be conferred upon it by an Act of the National Assembly, the Federal High Court shall have and exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other court in Civil Causes and Matters-
(e) arising from the operation of the Companies and Allied Matters Act or any other enactment replacing that Act or regulating the operation of Companies incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act.”
See 7-UP Bottling Co. Ltd. & 2 Ors. v. Abiola & Sons (1996) 7 NWLR (Pt. 463) Page 714; Akinbobola And Sons v. Plisson Fisko Ltd. (1986) 4 NWLR (Pt. 37) page 621; Skensconsult (Nig.) Ltd. & Anor. v. Godwin Sekondy Ukey (1981) 1 S. C. 6 at Page 31.
See also, Section 393(1) of the Companies and Allied Matter, Act, 1990, which spells out the powers, duties, etc. of receiver’s which include protection and management of properties.
Even from a reading of paragraph 3(b) of the appellant’s supporting affidavit without more, it should have been crystal clear to counsel that this whole action is attacking the acts of the 1st defendant as a receiver manager of the 2nd defendant company incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990 and that Section 251 (1)(e) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, applied to vest exclusive jurisdiction in the Federal High Court to adjudicate on the matter. Little wonder that the learned trial Judge described the application for want of jurisdiction as mala fide, frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of process. In as much as I would not want to use such hard words on counsel, there is absolutely no doubt that this application has unduly delayed the hearing of the substantive action bearing in mind the nature of the plaintiffs’ claim which requires a quick determination one way or the other. This is a case which commenced in January, 1999, and up to the present the substantive matter is yet to commence. Objections should not be too frequent, but more importantly they must be reasonable. The notion that objections are the product of a brilliant mind is in itself unreasonable and patently false nor are concessions made by counsel signs of weakness or some lack of knowledge. If the law must grow, this must be along lines that are reasonable, rational and legal. In this regard, lawyers should see themselves as much officers of the courts where they appear, as also servants of society and must not do anything in derogation of that trust.
There is no doubt at all in my mind that the respondents’ claim as per their statement of claim relates to and regulates the operations of the 2nd appellant and its assets, a company duly incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990 and the Federal High Court by virtue of Section 251(1)(e) has exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine the case. Therefore, the issues formulated by the applicant which in essence should be regarded as one issue must be and is hereby resolved in favour of the respondents.
The appeal lacks merit and is dismissed. The ruling of Hobon, J. of the Federal High Court, Kano, delivered on the 30th April, 2001, in suit No. FHC/CS/2/99 is hereby accordingly affirmed. There shall be N5,000.00 costs in favour of the respondents against the appellants.

MOHAMMED, J.C.A.: I have been privileged before today, to read the judgment of my learned brother, Alagoa, JCA, which he has just delivered. I agree with the reasoning and the conclusion reached in resolving the issues for determination in this appeal, which lacks merit. The appeal is accordingly hereby, dismissed with N5,000.00 costs to the respondents against the appellants.

JEGA, J.C.A.: I have had the opportunity of reading in advance, the lead judgment delivered by my learned brother, Alagoa, JCA. I am in complete agreement with the reasoning and conclusion reached, that the appeal lacks merit and deserves to be dismissed. I too dismiss the appeal. The ruling of Hobon, J. of the Federal High Court, Kano, delivered on the 30th April, 2001, in suit FHC/CS/2/99 is hereby, accordingly affirmed. I abide by the order for costs.

Appeal dismissed.

 

Appearances

Sunday Olowomuran, Esq.For Appellant

 

AND

C.A. Adolor, Esq.For Respondent

 

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