The Supreme Court recently held in the case of Federal Republic of Nigeria v. Enwenede Solomon & Ors (Solomon’s Case) that aside from the Constitution, rules of court or a statute can also curtail the unlimited jurisdiction of a State High Court under the Constitution. Seven years earlier, the same court had held in the case of National Union of Electricity Employees & Anor. v. Bureau of Public Enterprises (N.U.E.E Case) that the jurisdiction of the State High Court as conferred by the Constitution can only be curtailed, abridged or eroded by the Constitution itself. The facts of these two cases relate to different areas of law but they share in common, issues as to the scope of the jurisdiction of a State High Court.
Jurisdiction has been described as the threshold of the power of the court to adjudicate over any matter and the supremacy of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is well established in our jurisprudence. The divergent decisions in Solomon’s Case and the N.U.E.E Case raise questions as to the supremacy of the Constitution and the extent of the jurisdiction of a State High Court. The salient points from each of these cases are considered below.