Nigerian Coat of Arms
GABISAL NIG. LTD. & ANOR V. NDIC
CITATION: (2008) LPELR-CA/L/463/2000
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ISSUE
 
SECTION 251 OF THE 1999 CONSTITUTION: Interpretation of section 251(1)(d) of the 1999 Constitution as to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court in banking matters and over ordinary banking transaction between an individual customer and his bankers
   
PRINCIPLE
 
"The Supreme Court in NDIC V. OKEM ENTERP. LTD & ANOR (supra) has settled that position. In the said case, the apex court per UWAIFO JSC at p.183 paras E-H held thus:

"The proviso to Section 251(1)(d) of the 1999 Constitution says that the Federal High Court will have exclusive jurisdiction in banking matters, but when what is involved is individual customer and his bank transaction the Federal High Court shall not have exclusive jurisdiction. Undoubtedly, that was to recognise the jurisdiction the State High Courts had been exercising in such matters which Section 272(1) of the 1999 Constitution impliedly preserves. The High Court of a State can only exercise jurisdiction in any aspects of such specified matters to the extent that the proviso in Section 251 (1)(d) permits. The said proviso cannot be interpreted to have the effect of conferring exclusive jurisdiction on the State High Courts and completely taking away the jurisdiction of the Federal High Courts and entertain causes and matters relating to individual customer and bank transactions".

See also page 194 paragraphs B-E of the same case where Katsina Alu JSC stated thus:-

"It will be seen clearly that Section 251 (1) (d) confers exclusive jurisdiction on the Federal High Court in specified matters notwithstanding Section 272(1). What this means is that the jurisdiction conferred upon and exercised by the State High Court hitherto in regard to those specified matters has been removed. The proviso to Section 251(1)(d) however exempts any dispute between an individual customer and his bank from the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.

What this means is this. The proviso has done two things. First, the jurisdiction of the State High Court in transactions involving an individual customer and his bank has been preserved. In the second place, although the Federal High Court has jurisdiction in such disputes, it is not to the exclusion of the State High Court. In other words both courts have concurrent jurisdiction. That is to say that under the proviso to Section 251(1)(d) of the 1999 Constitution, the Federal High Court has concurrent jurisdiction with State High Court in transactions involving an individual customer and his hank: See Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria V. NDIC (1999) 2 NWLR (Pt. 591) 333."

In view of the foregoing, the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to entertain matters of banker/customer relationship runs concurrently with a State High under the proviso to Section 251(1)(d) of the 1999 Constitution. See also Societe Bancaire (Nig) Ltd V. De Linch (2004) 11-12 SC 75. In other words the proviso simply removes the exclusiveness of the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court under Section 251(1)(d) of the Constitution, but does not wittle down the jurisdiction of the court to entertain matters under the proviso. As the transaction that gave rise to this action is that of a banker/customer relationship, the lower court was in error to invoke the application of Section 251(1) (e) of the Constitution. The applicable provision as observed above is the proviso to Section 251(1) (d) of the 1999 Constitution." Per JAURO, J.C.A(Pp. 13-15, Paras. G-G)

   
CASES CITED ON ISSUE
 
  1. Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria V. NDIC (1999) 2 NWLR (Pt. 591) 333.

  2. FMB V. NDIC (supra) and NDIC V. OKEM ENTERPRISES & ANOR (2004) All FWLR (Pt. 210) 1176 ratio 6 and (2004)10 NWLR (Pt. 880)107.
   
STATUTES REFERENCED