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Inegbedion v. Selo-Ojemen

CHIEF M. A. INEGBEDION

V

DR. SELO-OJEMEN

OTIBHOR OKHAE TEACHING HOSPITAL

COURT OF APPEAL

( BENIN DIVISION )

KUMAI BAYANG AKAAHS, JCA ( Presided )

AMINA ADAMU AUGIE, JCA (Read the Lead Judgment)

NWALI SYLVESTER NGWUTA, JCA

CA/B/225/2002

FRIDAY, 27TH FEBRUARY, 2004

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW - Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 , section 251(2) - Exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court - Determination of

COURT - Federal High Court - Exclusive jurisdiction of in respect of section 251(1) of the 1999 Constitution - Determination of

EVIDENCE - Affidavit -  Material averment therein - Failure to file counter affidavit to contradict same - Consequence of

EVIDENCE - ‘Affidavit’ - Meaning of

EVIDENCE - Affidavit - Unchallenged or uncontroverted averments therein - Attitude of court to

JURISDICTION - Exclusive jurisdiction of Federal High Court Determination of in respect of section 251(1) of the 1999 Constitution

JURISDICTION - Importance of - Effect of lack of

JURISDICTION - Jurisdiction of court - Determination of

 

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Affidavit’ - Meaning of

Issue:

Whether the trial court was right in striking out the appellant’s suit for want of jurisdiction.

Facts:

The appellant herein went to the 2nd respondent hospital to conduct an HIV/AIDS test with his estranged wife. After the laboratory test was conducted, the 1st respondent an employee of the 2nd respondent hospital diagnosed and informed him that he was HIV positive. He was asked to return in three months for a confirmatory test. The appellant however went to another hospital, St. Camillus Hospital, Uromi, Edo State for another test, the result of which revealed he was HIV negative and a confirmatory test at the 2nd respondent hospital also revealed that the appellant was HIV negative. He alleged that the 1st respondent breached the doctor/patient relationship by disclosing the first result of his HIV test to his wife and to a fake prophet who used it in an attempt to extort money and other valuables from him.

In an action instituted in the High Court of Edo State sitting at Ekpoma, the appellant claimed  the sum of N240,000,000.00 or two million dollars jointly and severally from the respondents in aggravated and/or exemplary damages for negligence. According to the appellant, the 2nd respondent failed to discharge the duty of care owed to him as patient by failing in his duty to provide competent staff, adequate and efficient plant and equipment, and a safe, efficient and effective system of work and supervision.

The 2nd respondent, in an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit, contended that the suit cannot be entertained in a State High Court, but a Federal High Court because it is a Federal Government Agency.

The trial court took arguments of counsel on the application and struck out the appellant’s suit for want of jurisdiction on its part.

Dissatisfied, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.