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MRS. UZO GRACE EBIGBO v. COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, IMO STATE & ORS

(2020) LPELR-49553(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Friday, the 13th day of March, 2020

CA/OW/33/2015


Before Their Lordships

RAPHAEL CHIKWE AGBO Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

AYOBODE OLUJIMI LOKULO-SODIPE Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

ITA GEORGE MBABA Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria


Between

MRS UZO GRACE EBIGBO - Appellant(s)

AND

1. COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, IMO STATE
2. ASST. INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE (Zone 9 Umuahia)
3. INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE
4. DPO MGBIDI POLICE STATION
5. MR. G. IMO OFFICER IN CHARGE COMMAND SURELLANCE OWERRI
AND
1. HRN EZE PROF. P.O. EZIGBO (Ogbefi of Amaofuo)
2. UJU UZOIGWE
3. MICHAEL IGBONAJU
4. JAMES NZEREM - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on Signing of Court Processes.

FACTS:
This appeal emanated from the decision of the Imo State High Court in Suit No. HOW/541/2014, delivered by Hon. Justice L.C. Azuamaon 12/9/2014, in an application for enforcement of fundamental rights, wherein the trial Court held in favour of the Applicants.

At the trial Court, the Applicants (2nd set of Respondents) had sought the following reliefs against the Respondents:
a) An order of the Honourable Court restraining the 2nd to 6th Respondents, officers, men and operatives of their respective commands from arresting, harassing or detaining the Applicants at the prompting or instigation of the 1st Respondent, pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.
???b) And for such further or other orders as this Hon. Court shall deem fit to make in the circumstances.
c) Take further Notice that this Motion shall serve as a stay of all actions pending the hearing and determination of this motion.

???The 1st Respondent (now Appellant) had filed a motion on 1/9/14, seeking an Order to strike out the Applicants' suit, for lack of jurisdiction of the Court to entertain it. She, however, later filed a counter affidavit to contest the Applicants' Motion. The 2nd to 6th Respondents filed no counter-affidavit. But on 4/7/2014, Applicants filed Notice of Discontinuance of the Suit and followed up with a Motion on Notice on 10/9/14, seeking the order of Court for leave for the Applicants to discontinue the Suit against all the Respondents. That was in reaction to 1st Respondent's application to strike out the suit.  The trial Court heard the application to withdraw the suit and refused the same, ordering the parties to proceed with the suit. ???The trial Court delivered its judgment on 12/9/14 and granted the reliefs sought by Applicants, awarding cost of N10,000.00 to the Applicants, against the 1st Respondent (Appellant herein).

Being dissatisfied with the decision, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.

ISSUES:
The Court determined the appeal based on a sole issue thus:
"Whether the trial Court had jurisdiction to hear and determine the suit, when the originating processes were purportedly signed by" B.I. Adigwe & Co", (a law firm), and even when Applicant applied to discontinue the suit, upon receiving the preliminary objection challenging the competence of the suit, for not being signed by a legal practitioner known to law, the Court proceeded to deliver judgment in the suit."

DECISION/HELD:
In the final analysis, the Court of Appeal saw merit in the appeal and it was allowed. The decision of the learned trial Court was set aside and Suit No. HOW/541/2014 was struck out for incompetence.


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