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INTERPRETATION OF SECTION 82 CFRN 1999

Dictum

In my view their power under the section is further circumscribed and limited by sub-section (2) of section 82. They can only invite members of the public when they want to gather facts for the purpose of enabling them make law or amend existing laws in respect of any matter within their legislative competence or as witnesses in a properly constituted inquiry under section 82(1)(b). Their power to expose corruption, inefficiency, or waste is also limited to government departments, authorities, and functionaries.

– Oguntade, JCA. El-Rufai v. House of Representatives (2003)

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BY INTERPRETATION ACT, SINGULAR MEANS PLURAL IN ANY LEGISLATION

Let me hasten to state that even if the phrase any person denotes singular, by Section 14 of the Interpretation Act, in construing enactments, words in the singular include the plural and words in the plural include the singular. See COKER v. ADETAYO (1996) 6 NWLR (PT 454) 258 at 266, UDEH v. THE STATE (1999) LPELR (3292) 1 at 16-17 and APGA v. OHAZULUIKE (2011) LPELR (9175) 1 at 24-25.

— U.A. Ogakwu, JCA. ITDRLI v NIMC (2021) – CA/IB/291/2020

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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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CARDINAL PRINCIPLE OF INTERPRETATION: ORDINARY MEANING

It is a fundamental and cardinal principle of interpretation of statutes that where in its ordinary meaning a provision is clear and unambiguous, effect should be given to it without resorting to external aid. See A.-G., Federation v. A.-G., Abia State & Ors. (No.2) (2002) 6 NWLR (Pt. 764) 542 at 794 paras. B – C per Uwais CJN; A-G., Bendel State v. A.-G., Federation (1983) 1 SCNLR 239.

— M. Peter-Odili, JCA. CAC v. Ayedun (2005) – CA/A/152/2004

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EXCEPT STATED, STATUTE DOES NOT MAKE ANY ALTERATION IN THE LAW BEYOND

Crais on Statute Law 7th edition, the statement of the law reads at pages 121 to 122. “To alter any clearly established principle of law a distinct and positive legislative enactment is necessary. “Statutes” said the Court of Common Pleas in Arthur v. Bokenham are not presumed to make any alteration in the common law further or otherwise than the Act does expressly declare”.

– Cited in Abioye v. Yakubu (1991) – SC.169/1987

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NOT THE DUTY OF A COURT TO FILL GAPS IN STATUTES

In Adewunmi v. A-G., Ekiti State (2002) 2 NWLR (Pt. 751) 474, Wali, J.S.C. said at page 512: “In cases of statutory construction the court’s authority is limited. Where the statutory language and legislative intent are clear and plain, the judicial inquiry terminates there. Under our jurisprudence, the presumption is that ill-considered or unwise legislation will be corrected through democratic process. A court is not permitted to distort a statute’s meaning in order to make it conform with the Judge’s own views of sound social policy.”

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DOCUMENTS ARE TO BE GIVEN THEIR NATURAL MEANING

The first rule about the construction of documents enjoins that the simple natural meaning of words be ascribed to them unless this is impossible, and the defendant is severely precluded from giving oral evidence to disparage the clear expressions already reduced by her or for her into writing. We have come to the conclusion in this respect also that the learned trial judge had not given the document exhibit 1 its natural and ordinary meaning and that on a close reading and study of that document it is manifest that the defendant states in exhibit 1 that the amount of 600 was the purchase price of the land which she had contracted to sell to the plaintiff.

– Coker, JSC. Rosenje v. Bakare (1973)

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