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  • Kaduna Refining & Petrochemial Co. Ltd v. Onuora
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  • 2000-12-04
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Kaduna Refining & Petrochemial Co. Ltd v. Onuora

KADUNA REFINING & PETROCHEMICAL COMPANY LTD.

V

MR. FELIX ONUORA

( Trading under the name and style of Ikechi Supermarket and Trading Company)

COURT OF APPEAL

( KADUNA DIVISION )

RABIU DANLAMI MUHAMMAD,  JCA ( Presided )

VICTOR A. OYELEYE OMAGE,  JCA (Read the Lead Judgment)

OLUDADE OLADAPO OBADINA,  JCA

CA/K/215/97

MONDAY, 5TH JUNE, 2000

COMPANY LAW - Company limited by shares - Status of - Whether distinct from its subscribers

CONTRACT  - Contracts between individuals, and limited liability companies - Matters relating thereto - Jurisdiction in respect of Whether vested in the Federal High Court

COURT - Federal High Court - Extent of jurisdiction of  - Whether includes simple contracts between individuals, and limited liability companies -  Section 230(1)(s) 1979 Constitution as amended by Decree No. 107  of  1993

JURISDICTION - Jurisdiction of the Federal High Court - Extent of Whether includes simple contracts between individuals, and limited liability companies - Section  230 (1)(s) 1979 Constitution as amended by Decree No. 107 of 1993

JURISDICTION - Jurisdiction of court - What determines - Ingredients of

JURISDICTION - Issue of jurisdiction - Importance of - When may be raised - Need to consider first

JURISDICTION - Lack of jurisdiction - Effect on proceedings

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Pleadings - Pleadings not supported by evidence - Effect

Issue:

Whether by virtue of section 230(1) of the 1979 Constitution as modified by Decree No. 107 of 1993, the trial court was vested with jurisdiction to adjudicate in this matter involving contract of sale or supply between the parties herein and in the given circumstances of the case.

Facts:

At the Federal High Court, Kaduna, the plaintiff/respondent claimed against the defendant/appellant the following reliefs:

“(a) A declaration that the purported increase/review of the 18 litre empty tins by the defendant, from N25 to N40 with effect from 10.5.93 as not affecting the plaintiff, who paid for his own much earlier than the commencement date of the price increase/review.

  1. An order of specific performance directing the defendant to issue/supply the plaintiff the remain (sic) remaining 17,012 pieces of the 18 litre empty tins not later than 30 days from the date of judgement.
  2. N1,000.00 general damages from the defendant to the plaintiff for the breach of the arrangement/agreement between him and the defendant.”

After hearing evidence from the parties, the learned trial Judge entered judgment for the respondent.

The appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal and raised the issue of the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to entertain the matter.

It was argued by the appellant that the Federal High Court has no jurisdiction to determine the claim of a breach of contract between the parties.  Furthermore, the court had no jurisdiction to adjudicate on a matter of a breach of contract between individuals, one of who is not a Federal Government agency.  It was the appellant’s submission that the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company Ltd. is a limited liability company which is a corporate body and is independent of any other company and in particular in its management, is not a subsidiary of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation and that it is certainly not an agency of the Federal Government, though they may be the subscribers to its shares.

The respondent on the other hand submitted that the appellant company had admitted in its pleadings that it is a subsidiary of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation and so an agent is the Federal Govenment.

In resolving the appeal, the Court of Appeal construed section 230(1) of the 1979 Constitution as amended by Decree 107 of 1993 which provides: “Nothwithstanding any thing to the contrary contained in this Constitution and the addition to such other jurisdiction as may be conferred upon by an act of the National Assembly or a decree, the Federal High Court shall have and exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other court in civil causes or matters arising from 230(1)s any action or proceeding for a declaration or injunction affecting the validity of any executive or admistrative action or decision by the Federal Government or any of it agencies.”