- HON. CHIBUIKE ROTIMI AMAECHI V. INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION
In The Supreme Court of Nigeria
On Friday, the 11th day of May, 2007
MAHMUD MOHAMMED Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria
IKECHI FRANCIS OGBUAGU Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria
FRANCIS FEDODE TABAI Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria
IBRAHIM TANKO MOHAMMAD Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria
PIUS OLAYIWOLA ADEREMI Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria
CHRISTOPHER MITCHELL CHUKWUMA-ENEH Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria
ALOYSIUS IYORGYER KATSINA-ALU Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria
- HON. CHIBUIKE ROTIMI AMAECHI Appellant(s)
INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION Respondent(s)
- I. KATSINA-ALU, J.S.C (Delivering the Leading Judgment): Having heard all the arguments of learned counsel on all sides, I hold that the Court of Appeal was in error in declining jurisdiction to hear the appeal and the cross-appeal on the merit. It is now ordered that the matter be remitted to the Court of Appeal, Abuja to hear the two appeals expeditiously.
M. MOHAMMED, J.S.C: Having heard the arguments of counsel, I agree that the Court of Appeal was in error in holding that it had no jurisdiction to hear the appeals and the cross-appeals in this matter. Accordingly, the appeal is allowed and the matter is remitted to the Court of Appeal, Abuja, for expeditious hearing and determination on the merit.
I. F. OGBUAGU, J.S.C: Court: The judgment of the court as read out by the Presiding Justice – Katsina-Alu. J.S.C is agreed to by me. No order as to costs.
F. F. TABAI, J.S.C.: Appeal allowed. The Court of Appeal erred in law when it declined jurisdiction to hear and determine the appeals pending thereat. A court which hitherto has the jurisdiction to hear and determine a matter cannot, by the subsequent precipitate action of the defendant lose that jurisdiction simply because the defendant wants it so. After all, it is settled law that it is the plaintiff’s claim in a matter that determines the jurisdiction of the court. See Akinfolarin v. Akinnola (1994) 3 NWLR (Pt. 335) 659; Adeyemi v. Opeyori (1976) 9-10 SC 31 at 51. The 3rd defendant/respondent therefore cannot, by its expulsion of the plaintiff/appellant prevent the court from hearing and determining the complaints against it. I hold that the Court of Appeal has the jurisdiction to hear the appeals. I hold also that this is not the type of situation where we can make recourse to section 22 of the Supreme Court Act to do what the court below should have done. In conclusion, I hold that the appeal is allowed. The judgment of the court below declining jurisdiction is hereby set aside. And the appeals be and are hereby remitted back to the Court of Appeal for hearing and determination.
I. T. MUHAMMAD, J.S.C: Judgment read. Court of Appeal were wrong to decline jurisdiction. Matter be remitted to Court of Appeal to hear it expeditiously. No order as to costs.
P. O. ADEREMI, J.S.C: The Court of Appeal erred in law for declining jurisdiction. Appeal remitted to the Court of Appeal..
C. M. CHUKWUMA-ENEH, J.S.C: Case remitted to the Court of Appeal for hearing. That Court has the jurisdiction to entertain this matter. In this regard I agree with the judgment of Katsina-Alu, J.S.C. just delivered.
I.O. Fagbemi, SAN (with him. Chief Awa Kalu, SAN; N.O.O.
Oke, SAN; Steve Dappa Ado; O. O. Olorundare; H. O. Afolabi;
K O. Fagbemi; S. A. Oke; S. O. Adewoye; A. O. Popoola; B.
A. Oyun and Wumi Oladujoye) For Appellant
Chief Amaechi Nwaiwu, SAN (with him, O. Uba) –
J. B. Daudu, SAN (with him, E. C. Ukala, SAN; Joe Agi, SAN;
O. Wali, Esq.; C. Ihua-Maduenyi, Esq.; K U. Obayi, Esq. and
Kakujom, Esq.) –
J. K Gadzama, SAN (with him, R. O. Yusuf, Esq.; O. U.
Ozumba, Esq.; E. J. Gamaliel, Esq. and H. Odangla [Miss]) For Respondent