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ENTIRE PROVISIONS OF THE STATUTE MUST BE READ TOGETHER TO DETERMINE INTENTION OF THE LEGISLATURE

Dictum

The law is settled that in order to discover the real intention of the legislature, the entire provisions of statute must be read together as a whole. No section of a statute should be read and construed in isolation. If the entire provisions of the FIA are read together, it becomes clear that before a request for access to information relating to personal information of an individual in the custody of a public official or public institution can be granted, the applicant must show to the institution or the Court where an applicant approaches the Court for a review of decision of a public institution to deny access to personal information in its custody, the existence of any of the conditions or situations stated under Section 14(2) and (3) of the Act.

— M.O. Bolaji-Yusuff, JCA. CCB v Nwankwo (2018) – CA/E/141/2017

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PROVISION OF STATUTES ARE TO BE TAKEN AS A WHOLE

The position of the law is that when interpreting statutes, the provisions of the statute are to be taken as a whole and the review of any section therein cannot be severed from other sections. – H.M. Ogunwumiju, JCA. ITV v. Edo Internal Revenue (2014) – CA/B/20/2013

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LEGISLATION WITH RETROSPECTIVE EFFECT

Thus, the effect of making Exhibit 7, a subsidiary legislation with retrospective effect, to take care of the appointment process of the Emirship of Suleja, which as I earlier pointed out, has the force of law and now over-rides customary law. This is the moreso, in the instant case where confusion characterising the kingmaker’s body charged with the selection process and which was not helped by declaring what role the customary law vis-a-vis Exhibit 10 (the chronicle of Abuja) played in that process needed to be formalised and codified.

— Onu JSC. Ibrahim v Barde (1996) – SC.74/1995

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LEAN TO BROADER INTERPRETATION IN STATUTES; INTERPRETATION SHOULD NOT DEFEAT PURPOSE OF STATUTE

In Rabiu v. State (1980) 8-11 SC. 130 at 148-149; Udoma JSC opined: In my view, this Court should whenever possible, and in response to the demands of justice, lean to the broader interpretation; unless there is something in the text or in the rest of the Constitution to indicate that the narrower interpretation will best carry out the objects and purposes of the Constitution…I do not conceive it to be the duty of this Court to construe any of the provisions of the Constitution as to defeat the obvious ends the Constitution was designed to serve where another construction equally in accord and consistent with the words and sense of such provisions will serve to enforce and protect such ends.”

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WHERE WORDS ARE UNAMBIGUOUS

According to the canons of interpretation of statutes, it is a cardinal principle that, where the ordinary and plain meaning of words used are clear and unambiguous, effect must be given to those words in their natural and ordinary meaning or literal sense without resorting to any intrinsic aid.

– Tijjani Abubakar, JSC. Nwobike v. FRN (2021)

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WHEN INTERPRETING A CONTRACTUAL DOCUMENT THE WHOLE DOCUMENT SHOULD BE TAKEN CONSIDERATION OF

I am in full support of the submission of appellant’s counsel that it was a misdirection for the lower court in consideration of whether the land, the subject matter in controversy, was bare land or included the structures thereon to have relied on only clauses 3 and 6 in the entire lease agreement to arrive at its conclusion. The learned Justices of the lower court were clearly in error because it is a fundamental rule of construction of instruments that its several clauses, must be interpreted harmoniously so that the various parts of the instrument are not brought in conflict to their natural meaning. Emphasising the same point, the learned authors of Halsbury’s Laws of England. Vo1.12, (4th ed.) para. 1469) stated tersely but pointedly: “The best construction of deeds is to make one part of the deed expound the other, and so make all the parts agree. Effect must, so far as possible, be given to every word and every clause.” The same principle was approved by this Court in Lamikoro Ojokolobo & Ors. v. Lapade Alamu & Anor. (1987) 7 SCNJ 98, (1987) 3 NWLR (pt.61) 339. Surely, a fragmentary interpretation of the various clause of the lease agreement without recourse to the entire Lease Agreement would do violence to the content in which the controversial terms “premises” and “land” were employed and therefore the ascertainment of the parties’ intention in relation to these two terms was bound to be distorted and erroneous and consequently unacceptable.

— Achike, JSC. Unilife v. Adeshigbin (2001) 4 NWLR (Pt.704) 609

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NEXT LAW IN HIERARCHY TO THE CONSTITUTION

The law next in hierarchy to the Constitution is, an Act of the National Assembly. — A.O. Obaseki-Adejumo, JCA. FRSC v Ehikaam (2023) – CA/AS/276/2019

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