Discretion in the exercise of jurisdiction in conflict cases in Nigeria

Authors: Chilenye Nwapi, Emeka J Egbebu and Thankgod Akazua

ISSN: 2521-2605
Affiliations: Research Associate, Canadian Institute of Resources Law, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada; Senior Magistrate, Imo State Judiciary, Owerri, Nigeria; 4th Year Law Student, Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Source: Journal of Comparative Law in Africa, Volume 9 Issue 1, p. 94 – 129


This article analyses the jurisprudence of discretionary jurisdiction in conflicts cases in Nigeria to interrogate the considerations of theory and practical policy (or lack thereof) that, in the authors’ view, have influenced the development of the relevant law and procedure. The analysis includes an assessment of whether too much or too little weight has been given to some theories or policies. The article discusses discretionary jurisdiction in three main situations: (1) where the defendant is outside the jurisdiction of the forum court and, therefore, must be served ex juris; (2) when the court is invited to decline jurisdiction based on the doctrine of forum non conveniens; and (3) when there are parallel proceedings in a foreign jurisdiction. A key finding is that discretionary jurisdiction in Nigeria is highly under-theorised in the jurisprudence. Nigerian intellectuals have, for their part, not given the subject adequate consideration. There is, therefore, a dearth of literature to draw on. The article sifts through the rules of court and court decisions to discover the theoretical and practical considerations for the courts’ exercise of discretionary jurisdiction in the three situations mentioned.