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CIRCUMSTANCES WHERE COURT MAY SET ASIDE ITS OWN JUDGEMENT

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Circumstances in which a court may invoke its inherent power to set aside its judgment or order are:- (1) To correct any clerical error or mistakes arising from accidental slip or omission or to vary the judgment or order so as to give effect to its meaning or intention under the Rules of Court Order 5 rule 3 Court of Appeal Rules, 1981. (2) Until a court pronounces a judgment on merit or by consent of the parties a court retains the power to set aside its default judgment obtained in the absence of one of the parties or default of pleadings – The power to do so is however discretionary and has to be exercised judiciously. Mohammed v. Husseini (1998) 14 NWLR (Pt.584) 130; paragraphs D-E. Williams v. Hope Rising Voluntary Funds Society (1982) 1-2 SC 145; (3) Where a judgment has been obtained as a result of fraud practiced by one of the parties Ojiaka v. Ogueze(1962) 1 SCNLR 112, (1962) 1 All NLR 58; Ekerete v. Eke (1925) 6 NLR 118; Craig v. Kanseen (1943) K.B. 256; Agunbiade v. Okunoga (1961) 1 All NLR 110. (4) Where a judgment is a nullity, due to a fundamental defect which goes to the issue of jurisdiction and competence of the court. J. A. Folorunso v. Shaloub (1994) 3 NWLR (Pt.333) 413 at 422, paragraphs G-H; Skenconsult (Nig.) Ltd. Ukey (1981) 1 SC 6.

— O.O. Adekeye, JCA. Omotunde v. Omotunde (2000) – CA/I/M.57/2000

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SUMMARY JUDGEMENT IS FOR DISPOSAL OF UNCONTESTED CLAIMS

In the instant case after the exchange of pleadings the respondent (as plaintiff at the trial court) brought an application for summary judgment under Order 11 Rules 1 and 2 of the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules 1994. The summary judgment procedure is for disposing of cases which are virtually uncontested with dispatch. It applies to cases where there can be no reasonable doubt that the plaintiff is entitled to judgment and where it is inexpedient to allow a defendant to defend for mere purposes of delay. It is for the plain and straight forward, not for the devious and crafty. See U.B.A. Plc Vs Jargaba (2007) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1045) 247 @ 270 F-H per I.T. Muhammad, JSC; Sochipo Vs Leminkainen OY (1986) 1 NWLR (Pt. 15) 230: Adebisr Macqreoor Ass. Ltd. Vs N.M.B. Ltd (1996) 2 NWLR (Pt. 431) 378: (1996) 2 SCNJ 72 @ 81.

— K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun JSC. B.O. Lewis v. United Bank for Africa Plc. (SC.143/2006, 14 January 2016)

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TRIAL JUDGE IMPORTED EQUITABLE CONSIDERATION INTO HIS JUDGEMENT

By importing equitable consideration into his judgment, the learned trial Judge by what I term judicial legislation threw overboard and or repealed Exhibit –D” which is the applicable customary law to the chieftaincy. The court does not have that power. The office of the judge is jus dicere, not jus dare. See Okumagba v. Egbe (1965) All NLR 62 at 67.

— Ogwuegbu, JSC. Ogundare v Ogunlowo (1997) – SC.25/1994

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JUDGEMENT IN REM

In Oni & Anor V Oyebanji & Ors( SC/CV/398/2023 on 6-4-2023) this court Per Agim JSC restated the law on this concept thusly “As this Court held in Ogboru & Anor v. Uduaghan & Ors (2011) LPELR-8236 (SC) “A judgement in rem may be defined as the judgement of a court of competent jurisdiction determining the status of a person or thing as distinct from the particular interest of a party to the litigation. Apart from the application of the term to persons, it must affect the “res” in the way of condemnation, forfeiture, declaration, status or title. (a) Examples are judgment of a Court over a will creating the status of administration. (b) Judgment in a divorce by a Court of competent jurisdiction dissolving a marriage declaring the nullity or affirming its existence. (c) Judgment in an election petition. The feature of a judgment in rem is that it binds all persons – 36 whether a party to the proceedings or not. It stops anyone from raising the issue of the status of persons or persons or things, or the rights or title to properly litigated before a competent Court. It is indeed conclusive against the entire world in whatever it settles as to status of the person or property. All persons whether party to the proceedings or not are stopped from averring that the status of persons is other than the Court has by such judgement declared or made it to be.” Okpalugo vs. Adeshoye (t996) 10 NELR pt. 476, pg. 77, Fan trades Ltd. vs Uni Association Co. Ltd. (2002) 8 NWLR Pt. 770, pg. 699., Ogbahon vs. Reg. Trustees CCCG (2002) 1 NWLR Pt. 749, pg. 675, Olaniyan vs Fatoki (2003) 13 NWLR pt. 837, Pg. 273.

— E.A. Agim, JSC. Oyetola v INEC & Ors. (2022) – SC/CV/508/2023

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JUDGEMENT CONFINED TO ISSUE RAISED

It is a well settled principle of judicial adjudication that the judgment in a lis must be confined to the cause of action and the issues raised on the pleadings See: Ochonma v. Asirim Unosi (1965) NMLR 321. The court cannot grant remedies or reliefs not claimed by the parties. – Karibe-Whyte JSC. Awoniyi v. AMORC (2000)

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MAGISTRATE COURT IS TO DELIVER JUDGEMENT WITHIN TIMEFRAME SET BY THE CONSTITUTION

In any case, section 294(1) of the Constitution is intended to ensure that a court delivers its judgment before the lapse of human memory. Those who preside over the Magistrates’ Court have no claim to better and longer memory than the Judges of Superior Courts, nor can there be a double standard of justice delivery, one in the lower and the other in the High Courts.

— Ngwuta JSC. The State v. Monsurat Lawal (SC. 80/2004, 15 Feb 2013)

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JUDICIAL OFFICER WHO DID NOT HEAR A CASE CANNOT GIVE A JUDGEMENT OR JOIN IN GIVING OPINION ON IT

The genesis of what brought about the improper constitution of the tribunal when it sat and delivered a ruling on 9 September 2015, has been clearly set out in the lead reasoning. I only re-iterate the position of the law that a judicial officer of whatever jurisdiction, who did not participate in court in taking proceedings in respect of the suit/case in question, has no legal right or capacity to express an opinion in determining dispute between parties in that suit/case where he did not participate at the hearing level of the suit/case. If he does so, the decision delivered in which such a judicial officer participated is a nullity as the court/tribunal was not properly constituted. See Madukolu v. Nkemdilim (1962) 2 SCNLR 341; Adeigbe v. Kushimo (1965) All NLR 260 at 263, Sokoto State Govt. v. Kamdex (Nig.) Ltd (2007) 7 NWLR (Pt. 1034) 492 at 497; Ubwa v. Tiv Area Traditional Council (2004) 11 NWLR (Pt. 884) at 4361. If a decision is a nullity, it cannot confer jurisdiction on same court/ tribunal or any other court or tribunal. One cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand. It will collapse. See Macfoy v. United African Company Ltd (1961) 3 WLR 1405 at 1409, (1962) 5 SCNLR 152.

— I.T. Muhammad, JSC. Nyesom v. Peterside (SC.1002/2015 (REASONS), 12 Feb 2016)

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