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CIRCUMSTANCES WHERE COURT MAY SET ASIDE ITS OWN JUDGEMENT

Dictum

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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A MERE VARIATION OF PANEL DOES NOT NULLIFY JUDGEMENT OF COURT

This is also settled, a mere variation in the composition of a Panel or tribunal or court, which does not affect the substance of the inquiry, cannot touch or affect, the judgment or decision, of such a body neither does such variation, render the judgment or decision, a nullity.

— Ogbuagu JSC. Ndukwe v LPDC [2007] – SC 48/2003

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ONCE A COURT DELIVERS JUDGEMENT IT IS FUNCTUS OFFICIO; EXCEPTIONS THAT EXISTS

It is settled law that once a Court has delivered its decision on a matter, it becomes functus officio with regard to that matter. What this means is that a Court cannot sit as an appellate Court over its decision; once it has decided a matter, it ceases to be seized of it, and it cannot re-open it for any purpose whatsoever – see Ogboru V. Ibori (2005) 13 NWLR (Pt. 942) 319 Sun Insurance V. LMBS Ltd. (2005) 12 NWLR (Pt 940) 608, Ukachukwu V. Uba (2005) 18 NWLR (Pt 956) 1, Ubeng V. Usua (2006) 12 NWLR (Pt 994) 244 and Onyekweli V. INEC (2009) 6 NWLR (Pt 1136) 13. But the law also says that Courts of record have the inherent jurisdiction to set aside their Judgments/decision/order, in appropriate cases. When a. The Judgment is obtained by fraud or deceit either in the Court or of one or more of the Parties; b The Judgment is a nullity; c. It is obvious that the Court was misled into giving Judgment under a mistaken belief that the parties consented to it; d. The Judgment was given in the absence of jurisdiction; e. The proceedings adopted was such as to deprive the decision or Judgment of the character of a legitimate adjudication; or f. Where there is fundamental irregularity. See Alao V. ACB (2000) 9 NWLR (Pt 672) 264, Tomtec (Nig.) Ltd. V. FHA. (2009) 16 NWLR (Pt 1173) 358 SC, and Jev V. lyortom (supra).

— A.A. Augie, JCA. Elias v Ecobank (2016) – CA/L/873/2013

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SOME PRINCIPLES ON THE NATURE OF A COURT’S JUDGMENT

1. A judgment or ruling of a competent court ought not to be illusory, but ought to have its consequences. One consequence of the Order of the Court of Appeal dated 13/11/85 is the restoration of Chief Ojukwu to his residence at No. 29 Queen’s Drive. The applicants by their delaying tactics have so far made that order illusory.

2. A judgment once given should be accepted as correct until the contrary is proved. This can only be done by and in an appropriate higher Court of Appeal – in this case the Supreme Court. This Court has not yet over-ruled or set aside the Order of the Court of Appeal of 13/11/85.

3. He who is in defiant disobedience of the law – here an Order of court – cannot appeal to the same law to help him continue in his disobedience.

4. The Applicants in this Motion are asking the court to exercise its discretion in their favour. The exercise of discretion is equitable and the function of equity is to supplement the law never to counteract or contradict the law.

– Oputa, JSC. Military Governor v. Ojukwu (1986) – SC.241/1985

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PRESUMPTION AS TO CORRECTNESS OF TRIAL COURT JUDGMENT

The law is that the conclusion of the trial Court on the facts is presumed to be correct, so that presumption must be displaced by the person seeking to upset the judgment on the facts.

– Ogakwu, J.C.A Fijabi v. FBN (2021)

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NIGERIAN JUDGEMENTS CAN BE ENTERED IN FOREIGN CURRENCY

If there was any doubt that judgment can now be entered in foreign currency as the Court of Appeal had done, the opinion of Ogundare, JSC in Koya v. United Bank for Africa Ltd. (1997) 1 NWLR (Pt. 481) 251, 269 – 289 should, in my opinion, lay such doubt to rest. After a review of several local and English authorities he said at p. 289: “It is my respectful view that courts in this country can claim jurisdiction to entertain and determine cases where sums in foreign currencies are claimed. The old rule in England, as well as in Nigeria, is judge-made and in the light of present day circumstances of extensive international commercial relationships, that rule should give way to a new rule as now in England more so that the difficulties hitherto experienced in enforcing such judgments no longer apply.”

— Ayoola, JSC. Saeby v. Olaogun (1999) – SC.261/1993

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PAYMENT OF JUDGEMENT ENTERED IN FOREIGN CURRENCY

The present practice is that where an award is made in foreign currency, the judgment will be for the payment of the amount in foreign currency or its naira equivalent converted for the purposes of the enforcement of the judgment at the time of the payment.

— Ayoola, JSC. Saeby v. Olaogun (1999) – SC.261/1993

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