In a case where Abdul Musa on behalf of his brother (Sulieman Abdul) sues the National
Bank of Nigeria and 2 Ors at the FCT High Court for a property in Gboko, Benue State few years after a cause of action arose. The service on the 1st Defendant was done at the branch office in Gboko, while service on the 2nd and 3rd Defendants were pasted on the wall of the company.
The crucial and pertinent question here is whether the Defendants have any direct link to the Plaintiff. The Defendants have no connection with the Plaintiff whatsoever as such, the Plaintiff lacks the merit to institute an action and has no locus standi against the same. Therefore, the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court has not been properly invoked and the Court cannot therefore adjudicate on the issues submitted before it against the Defendants.
Legal Tips Attorney representing the 1st Defendant filed a Preliminary Objection praying the Honourable court for an Order striking out and/or dismissing the Suit in its entirety for want of lack the jurisdiction.
Locus Standi denotes the capacity of a plaintiff to institute or commence proceedings in court. In other words, it is a legal query into the right or otherwise of the party instituting the action to so do. It could be a starter or non-starter in the commencement of proceedings in court depending on the legal capacity of the Plaintiff to sue or otherwise.
Locus Standi is linked to the question of jurisdiction. If a Plaintiff does have Locus Standi or the required standing to institute an action, the court cannot properly assume jurisdiction to entertain the matter. Locus Standi is sine qua non to the exercise of jurisdiction because judicial powers are constitutionally limited to cases in which the parties have Locus Standi. The Locus Standi of a Plaintiff in essence is a condition precedent to a court’s jurisdiction. Thus, before the court can proceed to the hearing of a matter on the merit, the plaintiff must have Locus Standi. For a Plaintiff to be able to obtain relief in a cause, he must have the necessary standing to sue. See; 8Adekunle v. Adelugba (2011) 16 NWLR (Pt. 1272) 154 at 171-172, paras H-A.*
The Supreme Court, in Ararume v. Ubah (2021) 8 NWLR (Pt. 1779) 511 at 529, par E-H, Per Abubarka held;
“The law is fairly settled on a long line of authorities that locus standi is a threshold issue that strikes at the roots and tap roots of the action, once it is raised, it must first be determined before delving into other issues bordering on the merits of the case. My learned brother, Rhodes-Vivor, JSC, in Daniel v. INEC (2015)LPELR-24566 at page 7, (2015) 9 NWLR (Pt. 1463) 113 said as follows and I quote:
“Locus standi denotes the legal capacity to institute proceedings in a court It is a threshold issue that goes to the root of the suit. On no account should the merits of the case be considered before locus standi is decided. Locus standi affects the jurisdiction of the court …”
I am solidly in support of the decision of the lower court when it decided to deal at once with the issue of locus standi, this is in accord with the settled position of the law I therefore endorse the decision.”
Evidently, the Plaintiff failed to establish the specific legal right it has sued for and intends to protect against the Defendants. Therefore, the Plaintiff lacks the locus to sue the Defendants. The law is trite that whereas in the instant case, the Plaintiff lacks the locus in a suit, the Court is robbed of the jurisdiction, to entertain the suit and the suit is liable to be dismissed.
See; Iwuji V. Governor of Imo State (2014) LPELR-22824 (CA);
Ogun State Property and Investment Corp & 3 Ors V. Atunrase (2002) 36 WRN 88.
The importance of Locus Standi to the jurisdiction of the court to entertain a suit cannot be overemphasised.
LEGAL TIPS is anchored by Ms CIA Ofoegbunam, an Abuja-based lawyer who is passionate about legal practice. LEGAL TIPS offers quick hints on substantive law, as well as rules of practice and procedure, and serves as a handy reference guide to lawyers, especially in court. Published on a weekly basis, the LEGAL TIPS Series is CIA’s modest contribution to legal development in Nigeria.