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F.R.N. v. Odua Investment Co. Ltd

THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

V

ODUA INVESTMENT COMPANY LIMITED

EPE PLYWOOD INDUSTRY LIMITED

MR. ADE OSONOIKI

DR. ODUOLA RAZAK

A. O. OKESOLA

S. O. AJIBAWO

ADEBISI FAMILUGBA

A. T. H. ADEFILA

REV. (MS) SOREMEKUN

ALHAJI R. S. ARUNA

T. K. OYENUGA

RASHEED ADESOKAN

ENGR. CHIEF F. K. AKINTOLA

CHIEF N. O. IDOWU

OLABODE MUSTAPHA (BALOGUN)

COURT OF APPEAL

( JOS DIVISION )

IBRAHIM T. MUHAMMAD, JCA ( Presided and Read the Lead Judgment )

OLUDADE OLADAPO OBADINA, JCA

IFEYINWA CECILIA NZEAKO, JCA

CA/J/336c/99

TUESDAY, 26TH MARCH, 2002

APPEAL - Issues - Respondent’s issue - Need for to relate to grounds of appeal

COURT - Duty of to interprete law - Whether exclusive

COURT - Statute restricting litigant’s right of access to court - Attitude of courts thereto

COURT - Tribunal - Action brought therebefore from a High Court - Effect thereof

COURT - Tribunal - General status of vis-a-vis regular courts

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Prosecution - Options open thereto when courts make order in disregard of an ouster clause

JUDGMENT AND ORDERS - Judgment of court - Validity and bindingness of until declared nullity or set aside by superior court

JURISDICTION - Jurisdiction of courts - Where challenged by ouster clause -  Duty on court

JURISDICTION - Where expressly ousted - Duty of court to decline jurisdiction

STATUTE - Decrees and Edicts - Effect of on other Laws under the Military regime

STATUTE - Statute restricting litigant’s right of access to court - Attitude of courts thereto

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Ouster of jurisdiction’ - Meaning of

Issues:

1.            Whether the Miscellaneous Offences Tribunal is subject to the order, supervisory jurisdiction or judicial review of the Federal or State High Court.

2.            Whether the ouster clauses in Decree No. 9 of 1991 and No. 13  of 1995 renders the actions instituted before the High Courts in this appeal automatically void without more, and renders all orders made by that court null and void and liable to be flagrantly disobeyed?

Facts:

The respondents were standing trial before the Miscellaneous Offences Tribunal, Jos Zone, Lafia for various fraud-related offences under Decree No. 13 of 1995.

There were two pending cases filed by the respondents at Ibadan High Court and Federal High Court, Abeokuta.  Nevertheless, the learned Director of Public Prosecutions sought for the plea of the three accused present in court to be taken.  The DPP’s application was objected to by the accused persons’counsel and rather urged the court to adjourn the case pending the outcome of the case before the Federal High Court, Abeokuta. A copy of the Federal High Court ruling staying further proceedings before the Tribunal pending the determination of the DPP’s motion for preliminary objection.

The DPP on the other hand argued that the combined provision of the law setting up the Tribunal, particularly section 12(3) and (4) of the 1995 and section 1(8), (9), (10) and (11) of Tribunal ( Miscellaneous Provisions) Decree No. 9 of 1991 states that once the tribunal assumes jurisdiction in any matter within its power, it will not be subject to the order of any other court.

The learned Chairman of the Tribunal held that he will not disregard flagrantly the orders of the Federal High Court, Abeokuta and Ibadan High Court; hence, he would not commence trial of the accused persons until the interlocutory proceedings pending before the said courts are put to rest.

Being dissatisfied with the said ruling, the complainant brought this appeal urging the Court of Appeal to determine whether the Miscellaneous Offences Tribunal is subject to the order, supervisory jurisdiction or judicial review of the Federal or State High Court.