➥ CASE SUMMARY OF:
IHIM v. MADUAGWU & ANOR (2021) – SC
by PipAr Chima
Supreme Court – SC.305/2015
➥ JUDGEMENT DELIVERED ON:
Friday, February 19, 2021
➥ AREA(S) OF LAW
Fundamental Human Rights;
Jurisdiction of the FHC;
➥ NOTABLE DICTA
⦿ PERSON ACCUSED OF CRIME STILL HAS ACCESS TO ENFORCE HIS RIGHTS
The fact that a person has been accused of a crime, however serious, will not deny that person access to Court to enforce his fundamental right if these rights have been violated. See Duruaku v. Nwoke (2015) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1483) 417. – Ngwuta JSC. Ihim v. Maduagwu (2021)
⦿ BREACH OF CHAPTER IV RIGHTS CAN COME BEFORE THE FHC OR HIGH COURT
Anyone whose “Chapter IV Rights” have been, are being or likely to be contravened has unfettered access to a High Court for redress “High Court” is defined in Section 46(3) of the 1999 Constitution (the 1979) Constitution had the same Provisions to mean “the Federal High Court” or “the High Court of a State”. – Ngwuta JSC. Ihim v. Maduagwu (2021)
⦿ FHC & HIGH COURT HAVE CONCURRENT JURISDICTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES
A community reading of Section 46 of the 1999 Constitution and Order 1(2) of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules would reveal undisputedly that both the Federal High Court and the High Court of a State have concurrent jurisdiction on matters of breach or likely breach of any of the fundamental rights enshrined in Chapter IV of the Constitution. This has been the consistent position of this Court upheld in an avalanche of cases, some of which are Grace Jack v. University of Agriculture, Makurdi (2004) 17 NSCQR 90 at 100; (2004) 5 NWLR (Pt. 865) 208; Olutola v. University of Ilorin (2004) 18 NWLR (Pt. 905) 416, Ogugu v. The State (1994) 9 NWLR (Pt. 366) 1. – J.I. Okoro JSC. Ihim v. Maduagwu (2021)
⦿ COURT OF LAW SHOULD EXERCISE JURISDICTION WHERE
It is well settled, that a Court of law or tribunal is deemed competent to entertain and determine a matter or action before it if: (a) It is properly constituted in regard to numbers and qualification of the member thereof, and no member is disqualified for any reason whatsoever; (b) The subject matter of the case is within its jurisdiction, and there is no feature therein preventing the Court from exercising its jurisdiction; and (c) The case is initiated by due process of law, and upon satisfying any condition precedent to the exercise of jurisdiction. See Madukolu v. Nkemdilim (1962) 1 All NLR 587; (1962) 2 SCNLR 341; Mark v. Eke (1997) 11 NWLR (Pt. 529) 501; SLB Consotium Ltd v. NNPC (2011) 9 NWLR (Pt. 1252) 317, (2011) 5 SCM 187. – I.M.M. Saulawa JSC. Ihim v. Maduagwu (2021)
1. Cyril Maduagwu;
2. Inspector General of Police
➥ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Nwali Sylvester Ngwuta, J.S.C.
⦿ FOR THE APPELLANT
– A. Somiari.
⦿ FOR THE RESPONDENT
– Damian O. Okoro with him, O. Enape – for 1st Respondent;
– H. A. Bello – for 2nd Respondent.
➥ CASE HISTORY
In an ex-parte application filed on 4th October, 2004 pursuant to Fundamental Rights (Enforcement) Rules, 1979 the applicant, Mr. Cyril Maduagwu (now 1st respondent in the appeal) sought the following relief, inter alia, an order granting leave to the applicant to apply for the enforcement of his fundamental right guaranteed by Sections 35 and 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, viz right to personal liberty and right to freedom of movement.
On 5th October, 2004 the Court granted the ex-parte application and made the orders sought therein. Pursuant to the grant of his application, the applicant filed a motion on notice on 11th October, 2004, claiming the following, inter alia: A declaration that the transaction whereby the applicant transferred his interest in respect of Shop No. 145 at Park Line, New Market, Owerri, Imo State to the 1st respondent which led to the 1st respondent’s petition to the 2nd to 7th respondents which subsequently led to the arrest and detention of the applicant is purely a civil matter that has no criminal undertone; A declaration that the arrest and detention of the applicant by the 2nd to 7th respondents on the 22nd day of September, 2004 and also on the 27th September, 2004 is unjustifiable, unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional.
On 11th July, 2007, the suit came up for judgment but the learned trial Judge raised the issue of jurisdiction suo motu and required learned counsel for the parties to submit written addresses on the issue.
On 1st August, 2008, the learned trial Judge having considered the written addresses on jurisdiction, ruled that the Court has the inherent power under Section 6(6) of the Constitution and the jurisdiction by virtue of Sections 46 and 251 of the Constitution to entertain this suit filed by the applicant.
This appeal is against the decision of the Court of Appeal upholding that the Trial Court has the jurisdiction.
➥ ISSUE(S) & RESOLUTION
[APPEAL: DISMISSED WITH N250,000 COST]
I. Whether or not the Court of Appeal was right on the facts of the case, to affirm the decision of the trial Court that the Federal High Court has jurisdiction to entertain the 1st respondent’s application to enforce his fundamental rights.
I.A. The arrest and detention of the 1st respondent which the 1st respondent claimed to be in contravention of his fundamental rights were effected by the police, in its official capacity as an agent of the Federal Government. By Section 251(r) of the Constitution, the Federal High Court has exclusive jurisdiction in the application filed by the 1st respondent.
➥ MISCELLANEOUS POINTS
➥ REFERENCED (STATUTE)
➥ REFERENCED (CASE)
⦿ REPLY BRIEF IS NOT FOR CORRECTING ERRORS IN MAIN BRIEF
In Nyesom v. Peterside & Ors. (2015) 11 – 12 SCM, 139, (2016) 1 NWLR (Pt. 1492) 71 this Court held that “The purpose of a reply brief is to reply to new points raised in the respondent’s brief of argument and not fill any error in appellant’s brief.”
➥ REFERENCED (OTHERS)