LAGOS – Defence Counsel, Mrs Adeji Afishetu, on Wednesday challenged the jurisdiction of a Federal High Court in Lagos to hear an application seeking to substitute a non-legal person for a juristic person.
Afishetu is challenging the court’s jurisdiction in a suit filed by one Mr Barnabas Igwe against the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria of Customs Service (NCS) and some others over alleged infringement on his fundamental rights.
Afishetu said that a suit initiated by a non-juristic person could not be taken over by a juristic person, arguing that in law, the suit was never instituted.
According to her, the Comptroller-General and the Area Comptroller, Federal Operations, Ikeja – also a respondent — are non-juristic persons, and cannot sue or be sued.
She submitted that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the suit.
She said: “A party cannot amend or effect correction in the process of the court by replacing a non-juristic person with one that has legal capacity to sue or be sued.
“In a case where a non legal person is a plaintiff, the title of the suit cannot be amended because there was never a legal person; therefore, the suit is deemed as never filed in court.”
Afishetu urged the court to strike out the suit, arguing that an application to substitute the respondents’ names was to overreach a preliminary objection she filed.
Igwe, who resides in Amowo-Odofin area of Lagos State filed the suit through his Counsel, Mr Jonathan Okiogbero.
He is seeking a declaration that his alleged arrest on March 13 and unlawful detention by officers of NCS was unconstitutional.
Mr N. D. Piyathap in-charge of legal operations, NCS, Ikeja, is also a respondent.
He had, through his counsel, filed an application seeking to substitute the names of the first and second respondents to Nigeria Customs and Service Board (NCSB).
The defence had filed a preliminary objection, challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit.
Justice Musa Kurya adjourned the case till Sept. 26 for ruling on the preliminary objection.
Igwe is seeking an order compelling the respondents to release him from detention immediately.
He also seeks an order restraining the respondents, their agents or servants from further arresting or detaining him.
He also seeks N50 million as damages for the alleged unlawful arrest and detention.(NAN)