Election or political party disputes often feature before Nigerian courts. In Nigeria jurisdiction in matters of conflict of laws (called “territorial jurisdiction” by many Nigerian judges) also applies to matters of disputes between members of a political party in the inter-state context.
In Oshiomhole v Salihu (No. 1) (reported on June 7, 2021), one of the issues for determination was whether the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja possessed territorial jurisdiction to handle a dispute between members of Nigeria’s ruling political party. The 1st defendant/appellant was at the time the National Chairman of the 2nd defendant/appellant (the ruling party in Nigeria). It was alleged by some Members of the party that he had been suspended at the ward level in Edo State and he was thus disqualified from holding the position of National Chairman. The 1st defendant/appellant, inter alia, filed a preliminary objection to the suit and argued that the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory did not possess territorial jurisdiction because the cause of action arose in Edo State where he was alleged to have been suspended as the National Chairman. The Court of Appeal (per Onyemenam JCA in his leading judgment) dismissed the preliminary objection and held as follows:
“The issue herein is straightforward. Order 3 rule 4 of the High Court of Federal Capital Territory (Civil Procedure) Rules 2018 provides that:
“All other suits shall where the defendant resides or carries on business or where the cause of action arose in the Federal Capital Territory, be commenced and determined in the High court of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”