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ESTOPPEL: ISSUE & CAUSE OF ACTION ESTOPPEL

Dictum

Two types of Estoppel by record are:- (a) Cause of Action Estoppel – which precludes a party to an action or his agents and privies from disputing as against the other party in any subsequent proceedings, matters which had been adjudicated upon previously by a court of competent jurisdiction between him and his adversary and involving same issue. (b) Issue Estoppel which precludes a party his servant, agent or privy from re-opening or relitigating as against the other party or his agents and privies in any subsequent proceedings, issues which were distinctly raised in a cause of action and appropriately resolved or determined in any suit between the parties in a court of competent jurisdiction.

– ADEKEYE, JCA. NOGA v. NICON (2007)

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INGREDIENTS FOR ISSUE ESTOPPEL TO APPLY

It is trite law that for issue estoppel to apply the following ingredients must be present: 1. The parties must be the same in the previous and present actions; 2. The same question that was decided in the previous action must arise in the present action in respect of the same subject matter; and 3. That question must be a final decision of a competent court. See Ebba v. Ogodo (2000) 10 NWLR (Pt. 675) S.C. 387.

— R.O. Nwodo, JCA. Teleglobe v 21st Century Tech. (2008) – CA/L/694/2006

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JUDICIAL POWERS IS UNAVAILABLE FOR RIGHTS NOT INFRINGED

It is only when the civil rights and obligations of a person fall for determination because of infringement or incursion by another person or authority, the Courts of the country have a right of adjudication. That is to say, in the face of accrued rights which had not been violated, tampered with or alleged to be violated or tampered with, the judicial powers of the Courts of Nigeria remain latent in the face of naked accrued rights.

– M. Peter-Odili, JSC. Oko v. Ebonyi State (2021)

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WHAT TO BE ESTABLISHED FOR ESTOPPEL PER REM JUDICATA

In agreement with the learned Senior Counsel’s argument in respect of the rules/requirements for the doctrine of res judicata, it is necessary to outline the conditions for application of estoppel per rem judicatum. For the plea of estoppel per rem judicatum the following must be established: 1. The Parties or their privies are the same in both the previous and present proceedings; 2. The claim or issue in dispute in both actions is the same; 3. That the res or the subject matter of the litigation in the two cases is the same; 4. That the decision relied upon to support the plea of estoppel per rem judicatam is valid, subsisting and final; and 5. That the Court that gave the previous decision relied upon to sustain the plea is a Court of competent jurisdiction.

– Nwaoma Uwa, JCA. NOGA v. NICON (2007)

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WHEN ESTOPPEL PER REM JUDICATAM CAN SUCCEED

Judicial authorities have enunciated the principles which are well pronounced in the case of Makun V. F.U.T. Minna (supra) wherein this court re-iterated that, for a plea of estoppel per rem judicatam to succeed, the party relying thereon must establish the following requirements or pre-conditions namely:- (a) That the parties or their privies are the same in both the previous and the present proceeding. (b) That the claim or issues in dispute in both actions are the same. (c) That the res or the subject matter of litigation in the two cases is the same. (d) That the decision relied upon to support the plea of estoppel per rem judicatam is valid, subsisting and final. (e) That the court that gave the previous decision relied upon to sustain the plea is a court of competent jurisdiction. It has also been held severally by this court that, unless all the above constitutional elements or requirements of the doctrine are fully established, the plea of estoppel per rem judicatam cannot sustain. See also the decisions in Yoye V. Olalode (1974) 10 SC 209; Alase V. Olori-Ilu (1965) NMLR 66; Fadiora V. Gbadebo (1978) 3 SC 219 and Udo V. Obot (1989) 1 SC (Pt. 1) 64.

— C.B. Ogunbiyi, JSC. Ogbolosingha v. B.S.I.E.C. (2015) – SC.165/2013

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WHEN DOES ISSUE ESTOPPEL ARISES

Issue estoppel arises when the issue has been decided upon to finality by a Court of competent jurisdiction. In other words, once an issue has been raised and distinctively determined between the parties, neither party can be allowed to fight that issue all over again. The same issue cannot be raised by either party again in the same or subsequent proceedings except in special circumstances. See Adone & Ors v. Ikebudu & Ors (2001) LPELR 191 (SC) and Tukur v. Uba & Ors (2012) LPELR 9337 (SC). For issue estoppel to apply, the following conditions must be satisfied: (a) The same question was decided in both proceedings; (b) The decision which creates the estoppel must be final; and (c) The parties to the judicial decision or their privies to the proceedings in which the estoppel is raised. To determine whether the above three elements exist (they must co exist), the Court will closely examine the reasons for the judgment and other relevant facts that were actually in issue in the proceeding. See Oyekola & Ors v. Amodu (2017) LPELR-42391 (CA); OSPM Ltd v. Nibel Co. Nig. Ltd (2017) 3 NWLR (pt.1552) 207 at 234 and Dasuki (Rtd) v. F.R.N. (2018) LPELR-43969 (CA).

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. APM v INEC & Ors. (2023) – CA/PEPC/04/2023

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DETERMINATION CONFINED TO CAUSE OF ACTION

It must be borne in mind, the settled principle that the hearing and determination of any cause or matter must be confined to the cause of action and the issues raised on the pleadings.

– Ejinwunmi JSC. Awoniyi v. AMORC (2000)

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