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  • Roe Ltd v. University of Lagos
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  • 2016-02-25
  • SC.42/2007
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Roe Ltd v. University of Lagos

ROE LIMITED
V
UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA
SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA


IBRAHIM TANKO MUHAMMAD JSC (Presided)
OLUKAYODE ARIWOOLA JSC
KUMAI BAYANG AKAAHS JSC
AMINA ADAMU AUGIE JSC
PAUL ADAMU GALINJE JSC (Read the Lead Judgment)

SC.42/2007
THURSDAY, 25 FEBRUARY 2016

APPEAL - Findings of fact by lower courts - Where concurrent - Attitude of Supreme Court to
APPEAL - Fresh issue on appeal - Where appellant raises - Impropriety of - Exception thereto
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW - Constitution, 1999, section 251 on exclusive jurisdiction of Federal High Court -
Interpretation of - Proper approach of court thereto
CONTRACT - Public Officers Protection Act - Inapplicability of to cases of contract and recovery of land

COURT - Federal High Court - Exclusive jurisdiction of - Scope of - Whether extends to claims founded on contract in
action involving Federal Government or agency of - Section 251(1), 1999 Constitution considered
INTERPRETATION OF STATUTES - Constitution, 1999, section 251 on exclusive jurisdiction of Federal High Court -
Interpretation of - Proper approach of court thereto
JUDICIAL PRECEDENT - Stare decisis - Doctrine of - Applicability of - Rationale therefor
JURISDICTION - Court’s jurisdiction - Determinant of
JURISDICTION - Federal High Court - Exclusive jurisdiction of - Scope of - Whether extends to claims founded on
contract in action involving Federal Government or agency of - Section 251(1), 1999 Constitution considered
JURISDICTION - Issue of - Propriety of raising at any stage of proceeding -
JURISDICTION - Time limit for actions - Issue of - Jurisdictional nature of - Effect
LAND LAW - Public Officers Protection Act - Inapplicability of to cases of contract and recovery of land
LIMITATION OF ACTION - Time limit for actions - Issue of - Jurisdictional nature of - Effect
STATUTE - Constitution 1999, section 251 on exclusive jurisdiction of Federal High Court - Interpretation of -
Proper approach of court to

STATUTE - Constitution 1999, section 251(1) - Federal High Court - Exclusive jurisdiction of - Scope of - Whether
extends to claims founded on contract in action involving Federal Government or agency of
STATUTE - Public Officers Protection Act - Contracts and recovery of land - Cases of - Inapplicability to

Issues:
1. Whether section 251(1)(p)(q)(r) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 vests
jurisdiction in the Federal High Court in matters pertaining to recovery of debt owed by the Federal
Government or any of its agencies under a simple contract. And/or whether the decision in NEPA v.
Edegbero & Ors. (2002) 18 NWLR (Pt. 798) 79, (2003) FWLR (Pt. 139) 1556 is to the effect that once a
Federal Government Agency is a party in a suit, the State High Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
2. Whether the respondent can validly for the first time without leave of court raise on appeal the Public
Officers Protection Act. And/or whether the Public Officers Protection Act applies to breaches of contract.

Facts:
The appellant claimed that it was awarded a contract by the respondent to computerize some of its departments and after
executing the contract, the respondent issued it with a certificate of completion. The two parties reconciled their accounts and
arrived at the amount standing to the credit of the appellant. The respondent refused to pay the outstanding balance despite repeated
demands therefor, the appellant commenced an action in the High Court of Enugu State claiming the amount owed with pre and post judgment interest. The suit was subsequently placed under the undefended list procedure at the application of the appellant. The
respondent filed a preliminary objection to the jurisdiction of the court. The trial court upheld the objection on grounds that the
action was statute barred and that only the Federal High Court was seised with jurisdiction over the matter and struck it out .
Dissatisfied, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal and following dismissal of its appeal, it appealed further to the
Supreme Court contending that the lower court erred in upholding the trial court’s decision that its action was statute-barred and
only the Federal High Court was seised with jurisdiction to determine.
In determining the appeal, the Supreme Court considered the following statutes;
Section 251(1)(p)(q)(r) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999:
“251 (1) notwithstanding anything to the contrary, contained in this Constitution and in addition to such other
jurisdiction as may be conferred upon it by an Act of the National Assembly, the Federal High Court shall
have and exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other court in civil causes and matters.
(p) the administration or the management and control of the Federal Government or any of its agencies;
(q) subject to the provisions of this Constitution, in so far as it affects the Federal Government or any of its agencies,
(r) any action or proceeding for a declaration or injunction, affecting the validity of any executive or
administrative action or decision by the Federal Government or any of its agencies.”
Section 251(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999:
“Provided that nothing in the provisions of paragraphs (p)(q) and (r) of this sub-section shall prevent a person from seeking redress against the Federal Government or any of its agencies in an action for damages in or specific performance where the action is based on any
enactment, law or equity.”