Lawyer’s Clear View On Emir Sanusi & Bayero’s Conflicting Court Orders: ~ Sixt-Media Lane Consult


Let me address this:

Both Federal High Court and State High Court are Courts of coordinate jurisdiction. It means that both Courts have the same level of authority and none is superior to the other. In the context of this scenario, there are two conflicting orders and both are as valid as they are until set aside by a court of superior jurisdiction; and in this case, the Court of Appeal.

Which one is most likely to be set aside? The one made without jurisdiction over the subject matter; and in this case, the order made by the Federal High Court. The reason is because disputes over chieftaincy such as this are matters within the jurisdiction of the State High Court and not Federal High Court, even if breaches of fundamental rights are alleged. The Federal High Court lacks the power to make any order or adjudicate over the matter.

The above is supported by the decision of the Supreme Court in Tukur v Gov of Gongola State where a fundamental right action was initiated by the applicant over his deposition as the Emir of Muri and reappointment of another. In a bid to stop this, a fundamental right action was initiated at the Federal High Court, Kano. Both the Federal High Court and Court of Appeal agreed that there was jurisdiction over the matter. But on further appeal to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court set aside the decisions of the Federal High Court and Court of Appeal on the basis that its erroneous for the Federal High Court to assume jurisdiction over a chieftaincy matter because fundamental right breaches were alleged.

Add on: Where a court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the main case, it cannot assume jurisdiction to make either interim or interlocutory decisions or orders. This is because jurisdiction is the foundation and life-wire of every case. Without it, any order made thereafter is an exercise in futility and will be a nullity no matter how sound the judgment is and how beautiful the proceedings were conducted. You cannot place something on nothing and expect it to stand.

Moreso, where a court order is made, its binding and must be obeyed even if made without jurisdiction. That is to say, every court order must be obeyed and anything contrary is contempt of court. However, the law is also that where a court order is made and it is challenged, by the party against whom the order is made, to be set aside, such party cannot be cited for contempt. In essence, the only option available for either party is to file an appeal against the respective orders made against them. Let the Court of Appeal decide.

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