Federal High Court has exclusive jurisdiction over matters of simple contracts involving agencies of Federal Government
In The Supreme Court of Nigeria
On Friday, the 28th day of September, 2018
Before Their Lordships
IBRAHIM TANKO MUHAMMAD Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria
OLUKAYODE ARIWOOLA Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria
KUMAI BAYANG AKA’AHS Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria
AMINA ADAMU AUGIE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria
SIDI DAUDA BAGE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria
SOCIO-POLITICAL RESEARCH DEVELOPMENT – Appellant(s)
1. MINISTRY OF FEDERAL CAPITAL TERRITORY
2. HAJIYA MAIMUNA BELLO AJANAH
3. HAJIA HADIZA ABDULLAHI – Respondent(s)
This appeal borders on Civil Procedure.
This is an appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, upturning the decision of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The case of the appellant was that, the respondent awarded the plaintiff/appellant, the contract to conduct training on the terms agreed and the plaintiff acknowledged receipt the same day. The respondent also sent the plaintiff a formal agreement, which it signed and returned to it.
Then on the 3rd of June 1999, out of the blues and without any cause or reason therefore, the 3rd respondent sent the plaintiff/appellant a letter withdrawing the contract. The plaintiff/appellant took out a writ of summons and filed along with it, a statement of claim. The matter was before Kolajo, J. and several applications filed by the respondents/defendants in the matter were heard and refused. Kolajo, J. retired before the matter was finally determined and it was consequently re-assigned to I. U. Bello, J. (as he then was). On the 30th of September 2001, Bello, J. took a motion for stay of proceedings, which he granted pending appeal.
The respondents alleged that the appellant, without any notice to them, moved the trial Court to discharge the order of stay of proceedings earlier granted by the same Court when they were served with notice of motion for judgment filed by the appellant.
The respondents filed a motion for the stay of proceedings and a motion for preliminary objection to the appellant’s motion for judgment. The trial Court refused both applications, which were struck out. What was then left before the trial Court was the appellant’s motion for judgment and counter affidavit of the respondents.
The respondents meanwhile, had filed an interlocutory appeal at the Court of Appeal. The trial Court overruled the objection of the respondents and entered judgment for the appellant based on the motion for judgment.
The respondents were dissatisfied and appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal held that the respondents were agencies or agents of the Federal Government and as such the FCT High Court had no jurisdiction to entertain the appellant’s action.
Dissatisfied, appellant appealed to the Supreme Court.
The issues for determination are:
“1. Whether it is proper for the respondents to maintain Appeals No.CA/A/32/2002, CA/A/113/2003 and CA/A/113/2004 before the Lower Court or neglect to serve their Notice of Appeal, Record of Proceedings and appellant’s brief in Appeal No. CA/A/113/2004 on the appellant.
2. Whether the 1st respondent is indeed an agency of the Federal Government.
3. Whether the Federal High Court has exclusive jurisdiction over matters of simple contracts involving agencies of the Federal Government.
4. Whether the respondents validly raised ground 2 of their grounds of appeal which challenges the legal personality of the appellant.”
In the final analysis, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal.
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