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GROUNDS UPON WHICH A COURT OF LAW CAN SET ASIDE HIS EARLIER RULING

Dictum

A court of law has the inherent power to set aside its decision or that of a court of co-ordinate jurisdiction under special circumstances, for instance where the decision is taken without jurisdiction, where a misrepresentation is made which influenced the decision, where there is a suppression of material facts or where the order is irregularly granted. Therefore, in appropriate situations, a court can invoke its inherent jurisdiction or power to set aside its judgment or order where it is made without jurisdiction or in appropriate cases where the order or decision is afflicted by another virus capable of rendering the decision or order ineffective null and void. See, UBA PLC VS. MAGAMA NIGERIA LIMITED & ANOR (2013) LPELR – 20685 (CA), OBIMONURE VS. ERINOSHO & ANOR (1966) LPELR – 25301 (SC) and ALAYA VS. ISAAC (2019) LPELR – 46881 (CA). The law is that where a court makes an ex – parte order (as in the present case) without jurisdiction, the same order could be varied or discharged depending on the circumstances of the case, the grounds under which the court could do so as rightly highlighted by the learned counsel to the Respondent are as follows: (i) If the plaintiff has not used his administrative powers that might have resolved the difficulty; (ii) if default has been made in giving security for costs: (iii) if the affidavit has not been filed when the injunction was moved for; (iv) if it was granted on a suppression or misrepresentation of material facts; (v) if it was irregularly granted; (vi) if the plaintiff failed to attend to be cross examined: (vii) if there had been delay in complying with an undertaking to amend the writ by adding a party as plaintiff; (viii) if there is non-disclosure of material facts.

— C.N. Uwa, JCA. FRN v Ozekhome (2021) – CA/L/174/19

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PARTY NOT BOUND BY JUDGMENT ON VENDOR AFTER LAND PURCHASE

In Mercantile Investment & General Trust Co. v. River Plate Trust, Loan & Agency Co. (1894)1 Ch 578 at 595 said the learned Judge: “Moreover, if the claim of the plaintiff company could be regarded as one affecting land, notwithstanding that no registration of that claim had been made in Mexico, which alone could validly bind the land there, then the English Company would be entitled to say that they were purchasers of the land prior to that action, notwithstanding that their title may also not have been perfected by registration. A prior purchaser of land cannot be estopped as being privy in estate by a judgment obtained in an action against the vendor commenced after the purchase.”

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JUDGEMENT MUST BE CONFINED TO PARTIES ISSUES

This is because it is a fundamental principle of the determination of disputes between parties that judgment must be confined to the issues raised by the parties and it is not competent for the court to make a case for either or both of the parties and then proceed to give judgment on the case so formulated contrary to the case of the parties.

– Iguh, JSC. Oshatoba v. Olujitan (2000)

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JUDGEMENT OF COURT REMAINS VALID UNTIL SET ASIDE; COURT OF COORDINATE JURISDICTION CANNOT SET ASIDE COORDINATE COURT JUDGEMENT

It is now settled firstly, that a judgment or order of a court of competent jurisdiction, remain valid and effective, unless it is set aside by an appeal court or by the lower court itself if it found that it acted without jurisdiction. See the cases of Ogueze v. Ojiako (1962),SCNLR 112; (1962) 11 All NLR 58 at 61; Williams v. Sanusi (1961) All NLR 334 at 337; Odiase v. Agbo (1972) 1 All NLR (Pt.1) 170 at 176; Melifonwu v. Egbuyi (1982) 9 SC 145; Ajao v. Alao (1986) 5 NWLR (Pt. 45) 802 at 823 and many others. Secondly, in the absence of statutory authority or except where the judgment or order is a nullity, one Judge, has no power, to set aside or vary the order of another Judge of concurrent and co-ordinate jurisdiction. See the cases of Amanabu v. Okafor (1966) 1 All NLR 205 at 207; Okorodudu v. Ejuetami (1967) NMLR 282 at 283; Akporue & Anor v. Okei (1973) 12 SC 137; Uku v. Okumagba (1974)1 All NLR (Pt. 1)475; Wimpey(Nig.)Ltd. v. Balogun (1986) 3 NWLR (Pt. 28) 324 at 331 and Orthopaedic Hospital Management Board v. B. B. Apugo & Sons Ltd. (1990) 1 NWLR (Pt.129) 652 at 657 just to mention but a few. The rationale or reason for this, is because, it is now firmly established that there is only one High Court in a State.

— I.F. Ogbuagu, JSC. Witt Ltd. v Dale Power (2007) – SC.240/2000

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NOT EVERY ERROR IN A JUDGEMENT WILL VITIATE IT

It is not every mistake or error in a judgment or decision that could vitiate such a decision as the mistake has to be shown to have led to a miscarriage of justice or materially or substantially affected the decision making to have such impact. See Owhonda v Ekpechi (2003) 9-10 SC 1 at 21; Mrs. Jumbo v R. S. H. P. A. D. A. (2005) 5 SC (Pt.11) 102 at 112. — M.U. Peter-Odili, JSC. Kwara Judicial Commission v Tolani (2019) – SC.63/2010

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ARBITRAL AWARDS HAVE SAME FORCE AS A JUDGEMENT OF A COURT

Onwu v. Nka (1996) 7 NWLR (Pt.458) 1 at 17 paragraph E, where the Supreme Court, per Iguh JSC. had this to say: “The law is well settled that where disputes or matters in difference between two or more parties are by consent of the disputants submitted to a domestic forum inclusive of arbitrators or a body of persons who may be invested with judicial authority to hear and determine such disputes and matters for investigation in accordance with customary law and general usages, and a decision is duly given, it is as conclusive and unimpeachable (unless and until set aside on any of the recognized grounds) as the decision of any constituted court of the land, such a decision is consequently binding on the parties and the courts in appropriate cases will enforce it.”

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WHAT IS A FINAL JUDGEMENT

A judgment of court which finally settles the rights of the parties in the subject matter of the claim in the sense that it was not given in default of a Statement of Defence is a final judgment.

– Karibi-Whyte, JSC. Afegbai v. A.G Edo State (2001)

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