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GIVE ORDINARY MEANING WHERE STATUTORY PROVISIONS ARE CLEAR

Dictum

The above constitutional provisions are clear, plain and unambiguous and should be accorded their literal interpretation by attaching the ordinary grammatical meaning to the words used therein. It is trite law that the elementary rule of construction is that words used in a statute should be given their ordinary grammatical meaning. Where the statutory provisions are plain and unambiguous, the Court should not go beyond their clear import. See Nabhan v. Nabhan (1967) 1 All NLR 47; Adejumo v. Gov; Lagos State (1972) 2 SC 45; Ogbuanyinya v. Okudo (1979) 6-9 SC 32; Ogbonna v. A-G; Imo State (1992) 1 NWLR (Pt. 200) 647 and Skye Bank PLC v. Victor Anaemem Iwu (2017) 16 NWLR (Pt. 1590) 24 at 87, per Nweze, JSC.

— M.A.A. Adumein JCA. Anibor V. EFCC (CA/B/305/2012, 11 DEC 2017)

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STATUTES ARE TO BE GIVEN THE ORDINARY MEANING

It is a settled cardinal principle of statutory interpretation that where, in their ordinary meaning the provisions are clear and unambiguous effect should be given to them without resorting to external aid. The duty of the court is to interpret the words of the statute as used. Those words may be ambiguous, but even if they are the power and duty of the court to travel outside them on a voyage of discovery are strictly limited (see for example Attorney-General of Bendel State v. Attorney-General of ‘the Federation (1981) 10S.C. 1; Abioyev.Yakubu(1991)5 NWLR (Pt. 190) 130, Lawal v. G.B. Ollivant (1972) 2 S.C. 124, Aya v. Henshaw (1972) 5 S.C. 87.

— I.L. Kutigi, JSC. Kotoye v. Saraki (1994) – S.C. 147/1993

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INTERPRETATION OF THE WORD “SHALL”

I return to section 146(1) of the Electoral Act. The third word in the section is “shall”. It is an obligatory and mandatory word conveying a command and compulsion. It is peremptory in nature and content. It is a word of authority imposing a duty mostly on an unnamed person. Courts of law mostly interpret the word in the above context of authority and command; bereft of discretion. (See Achineku v Ishagba (1988) 4 NWLR (Part 89) 411; UNTHBM v Nnoli (1994) 8 NWLR (Part 363) 376; Lt.-Gen Bamaiyi (Rtd) v Attorney-General of the Federation (2001) 12 NWLR (Part 727) 468; Ogidi v The State (2005) 5 NWLR (Part 918) 286). Although the word could, at times, convey a permissive meaning, like “may” it is my view that it conveys its usual and ordinary meaning of obligation and command in section 146(1).

— Niki Tobi, JSC. Buhari v. INEC (2008) – SC 51/2008

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STRICT PRINCIPLES ARE INAPPLICABLE TO NATIVE COURT PROCEEDINGS

The procedure of a Native Court should not be subjected to strict principles of law as done, in the regular courts of record. Greater latitude and broader interpretation should be accorded to decisions of native courts.

– Fabiyi JSC. Ogundele v. Agiri (2009)

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WORDS AND PHRASES ARE TO BE GIVEN THEIR ORDINARY MEANING

Under the literal rule of interpretation of statute, words and phrases in enactments are to be given their ordinary, original or grammatical meanings even if it will create hardship, inconvenience or injustice to the parties in so far as it will not result to absurdity. See, B.A.J (NIG) LTD. v. OGUNSEYE (2010) 4 NWLR (1184) 343, AMAECHI v. INEC (2007) 9 NWLR (PT. 1080) 504, UWAGBA v. FRN (2009) 15 NWLR (P. 1163) 91, OWENA BANK v. STOCK EXCHANGE (1997) 7 SCNJ 160.

— A.O. Obaseki-Adejumo, JCA. FRSC v Ehikaam (2023) – CA/AS/276/2019

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STATUTES SHOULD BE READ IN WHOLESOMENESS

Furthermore, it is the law that in construing any provision of a statute, a court ought, and is indeed bound, to consider any other parts of the statute which throw light upon the intention of the legislature and which may serve to show that the particular provision ought not to be construed as it would if considered alone without reference to such other parts of the statute.

– Katsina-Alu, JSC. Dantsoho v. Mohammed (2003)

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EXPRESSIO UNIUS EST EXCLUSION ALTERIUS

A-G. of Bendel State v. Aideyan (1989) 4 NWLR 646. This is that the express mention of one thing in a statutory provision automatically excludes any other which otherwise would have applied by implication, with regard to the same issue.

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