More On Jurisdiction: The litmus test

No we are not doing a science experiment…LOL! To determine jurisdiction or to make sure we have the right idea about it we ask three questions in this order:

WHERE? Where did this matter take place/where did the bad guy strike/where is our subject matter located/where does our potential defendant live or do business? In Criminal Litigation, you will most likely stop here and get the correct answer but for Civil litigation you will need to go further and for Property it is a mixture of both projections (for example if it is land transaction the where might be enough but for wills we definitely need to know more).

WHO? Who is taking an action and against whom is the action being taken? At this point gather any facts about the characters’ personality from the question. LEAVE NOTHING OUT! Any peculiar facts about them mentioned? How does this affect the situation?

WHAT? This what question may not be necessary for any other course, but it is definitely necessary for navigating section 251 in Civil Litigation. What did the personalities identified do/what are they trying to do? What area of law can you classify the act(s)?

Criminal litigation

John, Jane and Ade robbed the Ikeja City Mall on the 19th of June at 6pm. They fled the crime scene an hour later and made their way to the Ibadan expressway. On getting to a checkpoint at challenge bus stop, Ibadan they shot all the policemen on sight. They stashed their loot at Ade’s house – No 5 challenge bus stop road, Ibadan, Oyo State. The men were apprehended by the police last week, Comment on which State High Court has the jurisdiction to try the offences.

Let’s start at the top WHERE (did the bad guy strike)? The committed at least two crimes in both Lagos and Oyo States. By virtue of NJOVENS v. STATE any of both states can try. So our answer is: The High court of Lagos State or The High court of Oyo State. 

Asking WHO does not really change the situation. Also WHAT they did is clearly within the High Court’s jurisdiction.

Civil Litigation

The Ministry of Commerce, pursuant to its ‘EMPOWERMENT OF US’ initiative is dealing with Shanghai Shen, Lagos Nigeria (a subsidiary of Shanghai Shen, Tokyo) one of the largest suppliers of hardware to supply clippers, hair dryers, and other beauty and cosmetic equipment. Shanghai Shen supplied the equipment in April 2016. In August 2016 the Central Bank of Nigeria issued a circular barring 10 foreign-owned companies (including Shanghai Shen) from access to foreign exchange unless the parent-company registers with the Central Bank. The Ministry of Commerce in September realised that the equipment supplied is in excess of the number of people targeted for the initiative. They have refused to pay Shanghai Shen the outstanding amount and want to return the goods. Shanghai Shen wishes to hold the Ministry of Commerce to its part of the contract. The company is also displeased with the new CBN policy. Advise the company on the proper court(s) in which they may institute action on these matters.

There are two distinct matters so we take them piece by piece

1) The contract with Ministry of Commerce:

WHERE? This is happening in LAGOS because the contract is to be performed/the breach arose in LAGOS state. At this point we have a rough answer: Lagos State High Court

WHO? This is a company dealing with the Ministry of Commerce (A Federal Government agency); that might raise the Section 251 flag and kick the matter to the Federal High Court however we must ask our last question…

WHAT? What will Shanghai Shen be complaining of to the court – a purely contractual matter, which is purely within the jurisdiction of the State High Court (remember the fishes from the last post) notwithstanding the parties. So finally we have the best and well considered answer: THE HIGH COURT OF LAGOS STATE – IKEJA JUDICIAL DIVISION 

2) The CBN policy matter:

WHERE? Shenghai Shen is in Nigeria, the CBN has its headquarter in LAGOS so everything went down in Lasgidi

WHO? Shenghai Shen wants to challenge the Central Bank of Nigeria, an agency of the Federal Government, Section 251 somebody!! We have a rough answer Federal High Court

WHAT? Shenghai Shen will be complaining about a government policy (if you notice the Section 251 (1)(p)(q)(r) mentions… matters of this calibre are really what section 251 was out to capture) hence the Federal High Court, Ikeja Judicial Division is precisely the best court for Shanghai Shen to challenge the policy.

Property Law is straight forward, wherever the land is, that’s where we source the applicable law, doesn’t matter who the people are. What they are doing only determines which type of law we will look at i.e. whether the laws on tenancy or the laws on sale of land. And it’s easy to remember:

PCL Jurisdiction: Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti, Edo and Delta (Try and cram this one)

CA Jurisdiction: Every other state (You don’t even have to know all names, once you see it is not among the above) except Lagos

MPL Jurisdiction: Lagos alone

And PLEASE if they say Abuja Street, Ibadan town, Enugu State – This is in Enugu; don’t let the other names throw you off.

Please post question in the comments or email me at


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