Acta Universitatis Danubius. Juridica, Vol 12, No 3 (2016)

Reflections on Some Aspects of the Jurisdiction of the Federal High Court under the Nigerian 1979 And 1999 Constitutions: One or More High Court (S)?

Taiwo Osipitan, Abiodun Odusote


This research makes enquiries on the continuous jurisdictional conflicts under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, CFRN.  The central issues in the jurisdictional conflicts under CFRN are two-fold. They are: whether the Federal High Court has jurisdiction in all cases involving the Federal Government or any of its agencies, irrespective of the subject matter of the case or whether the jurisdiction conferred on the Federal High Court is exclusive to the Court or is concurrently shared with other High Courts.  A related problem is whether the jurisdiction conferred on the Federal High Court is restricted to those specific causes, listed in Section 251 or extends to all matters within the legislative competence of the National Assembly. The interpretation and application of this provision have generated, and continues to generate the jurisdictional crisis. The conflicts have further deepened with the recognition of the National Industrial Court as a Court of co-ordinate status as the Federal and State High Courts. This paper examines some of the jurisdictional conflicts which have arisen in the jurisprudence of these courts.  The problems associated with adoption of dual system of High Courts are thereafter examined.  The paper ends with a discourse on the desirability of one or two or three High Courts within our judicial system.  The paper concludes that the existence of three High Courts within the Nation’s judicature raises question of desirability or otherwise of more than one High Court in a judicature which has only one intermediate Court of Appeal and only one Apex Court which entertains appeals from the three trial Courts. In the final analysis, and to eliminate the jurisdictional conflicts, delay and wastages, the paper makes a proposal for the merger of all trial courts to form a National High Court or High Court of the Federation.


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