The respondent entered into a contract with the appellant for lease of a wide range of communications and digital transmission facilities. The respondent alleged that the appellant was indebted to it to the tune of N287,395,134.00 (Two Hundred & Eighty-Seven Million, Three Hundred & Ninety Five Thousand, One Hundred & Thirty Four Naira) for services rendered to the appellant in accordance with the agreement between the parties. After writing several letters of demand to no avail, the respondent filed a suit against the appellant at the High Court of Lagos State seeking an order of the court to compel the appellant to pay the debt as well as accrued interest and cost.
Upon being served with the originating process, the appellant entered a conditional appearance and filed a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear and determine the matter and asking it to strike out the suit. The preliminary objection was anchored on the position that the transaction between the parties borders on and pertains to communications services which subject matter jurisdiction resides exclusively with the Federal High Court. The appellant posited that the suit is incompetent and that the Lagos State High Court lacks the requisite jurisdiction to entertain the suit. After hearing the parties on the preliminary objection, the trial court ruled against the appellant and held that it has jurisdiction to hear and determine the matter.
Dissatisfied with the court’s ruling, the appellant filed a notice of appeal at the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, urging it to overrule the trial court.
The sole issue for determination is whether the lower court was right in holding that the subject matter of the suit before it is for the payment of sums of monies outstanding on the breach of contract between the parties and therefore has jurisdiction to hear and determine the suit.
Held: (Unanimously dismissing the appeal)