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JUDGEMENT IN REM – IT DETERMINE THE STATUS OF A THING OR PERSON

Dictum

Now, in Law, a judgment in personam is a judgment against persons who are parties or privies to the particular suit or proceeding alone. It is referred to as judgment inter parties. It is a judgment binding on the parties to the action alone. A judgment in rem on the other hand, is a judgment that determines the status of a person or thing as distinct from referred to as a the particular interest of a party to the litigation. It judgment contra-mundum, binding on the whole World. It is therefore binding, not only on the parties to the dispute but even on non-parties. Therefore, once the status of a person or thing has been pronounced upon by a Court of competent jurisdiction, no person is permitted to assert the contrary of what the Court has determined. See Black’s Law Dictionary (11th Edition) at page 1008; Gbemisola v. Bolarinwa (2014) 9 NWLR (pt. 1411) 1 at 19; Yanaty Petrochemical Ltd v. EFCC (2017) LPELR -43473 (SC) and Ladejobi & Ors v. Oguntayo & Ors (2015) LPELR-4170 (CA). A judgment in rem therefore, is an adjudication which pronounced upon the status of a particular subject matter, by a Court of competent jurisdiction.

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

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A JUDGEMENT IN A CIVIL CASE IS MADE UP OF FIVE DISTINCT PARTS

I belief it is useful to begin my consideration of the main issue for determination in this appeal by advising myself that a judgment in a civil case is made up more or less of five distinct parts. These are the introduction of the issue in controversy between the parties, the cases of either side to the litigation as revealed on the pleadings, the evidence called by either side in support of its case, the resolution of the issues of fact and of law put forward by each party, and the court’s conclusions based on the resolution of the issues and the claims before the Court.

— P. Nnaemeka-Agu JSC. Gbaniyi Osafile v. Paul Odi (SC 149/1987, 4th day of May 1990)

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STAGES IN JUDGEMENT WRITING AS STATED BY OPUTA JSC

Isaac Stephen v. The State (1986) 5 NWLR (Pt.46j 978 in which Oputa J.S.C. set out the stages to be followed in writing a good judgment, particularly in criminal cases. The four stages outlined by the learned Justice are as follows:- “Stage 1: If the plea of the accused is guilty no issues arise and no evidence is required. The trial court can proceed straight to judgment. But if the plea is not guilty (as it is bound to be in murder trials) then all the constituent elements of the offence charged are put in issue. And the onus lies heavily on the prosecution to prove the offence charged beyond reasonable doubt. Stage 2: Issues are thus joined, evidence is led in proof or disproof of each issue. At this stage, the duty of the trial court is merely to record the evidence led and observe the demeanor of the witnesses called by either party. Stage 3: This is the most important and crucial stage as it deals with the perception of facts, evaluation of facts belief or disbelief of witnesses and findings and conclusions based on the evidence accepted by the trial court. At this stage, the trial court will briefly summarize the case of either party. This does not mean producing verbatim the evidence of the prosecution witnesses and of defence witnesses one by one but it does mean using such evidence to tell a coherent and connected story. Having done this, the trial court will then decide which story to believe. Here it is important to emphasize that the over worked expressions “I believe” or “I do not believe” have no extrinsic magic power or potency. There is nothing wrong in believing one side and disbelieving the other if either the belief or disbelief is in consonance with the natural drift of the evidence and the probabilities which on the totality of what evidence it is natural to expect. Stage 4: Having exercised his prerogative to believe or disbelieve having made his findings of fact, the trial court will then draw the necessary inference or conclusion from the facts, would then discuss the applicable law against the background of the facts as found. Any judge that follows the above pattern or something similar to it will be of invaluable help to the Courts of Appeal as well as to parties to the appeal. One would only wish that our trial courts do approach the difficult task of writing judgments in some methodical and orderly fashion.”

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ONLY COURT OF LAW CAN PASS GUILT OF AN OFFENCE

A university student is a priceless asset and as he is on the threshold of useful service to the nation, we cannot afford to destroy him by stigmatising him with offences unless proved guilty before a Court. – Andrews Otutu Obaseki, JSC. Garba & Ors. v. The University Of Maiduguri (1986) 1 NWLR (Pt.18) 550

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A DECISION IS PRESUMED CORRECT UNTIL THE ERROR ON APPEAL IS CORRECTED

Under our judicial system In this country, every party not satisfied with the decision of the Court of Appeal has a constitutional right to appeal against the decision. See section 213 (2) and (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1979. This right, under the Constitution, the Supreme Court Rules and the Supreme Court Act has to be exercised In the manner prescribed and within the time prescribed by the Act or extended by the Court. Where the right is not exercised, it is presumed that the parties have accepted the judgment given without question and are not aggrieved. Even where a party has appealed against a decision, the decision is presumed correct until the error complained of is established. See Odiase v. Agho (1972) 1 All N.L.R. See Folorunsho v. Adeyemi (1975) 1 N.M.L.R. 128; See Williams v. Johnson (1973) 2 WA.C.A 253. The presumption of correctness of the decision is stronger where there is no appeal against the decision.

— Obaseki, JSC. Foreign Finance Corp. v Lagos State Devt. & Pty. Corp. & Ors. (1991) – SC. 9/1988

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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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CONSEQUENTIAL ORDER GIVES EFFECT TO A JUDGEMENT

A consequential order is an order founded on the claim of the successful party. In other words, a consequential order is one which is not merely incidental to a decision properly made, but one which is merely to give effect to that decision. – Karibe-Whyte JSC. Awoniyi v. AMORC (2000)

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