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PURPOSEFUL INTERPRETATION OF A STATUTE

Dictum

For the purposeful interpretation of a statute, the law requires that the sections of the statute be read and considered in community, wholistically or together and not some or individual sections in isolation of the others.

– Garba, JCA. Dunlop v. Gaslink (2018)

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WORDS SHOULD BE CONSTRUED IN ACCORDANCE TO THEIR INTENTION

Taking the first and third issues together, the central question is the interpretation to be given to Exhibit 2. I have already set it out above. The first question is what approach should be made in the interpretation of Exhibit 2? In my judgment it is crucial that Exhibit 2 should be construed in the context in which it was written. For, I believe it to be well – settled that in the interpretation of statutes we ought to bear in mind the circumstances when the Act was passed and the mischief which then existed and use them as an aid to the construction of the words which Parliament has used. See on this: Holme v. Guy (1877) 5 Ch. O. 596; River Wear Commissioners v. Adamson (1877) 2 App. Cas. 743, per Lord Blackburn; Eastman Photographic Materials Co., Ltd. v. Comptroller-General of Patents (1898) A.C. 571. Besides, words in a statute are to be construed in accordance with their intention. See Wandsworth Board of Works v. United Telephone Co. (1884) 13 Q.B.D. 904. These principles of interpretation have for a long time been applied to the interpretation of documents.

— Nnaemeka-Agu, JSC. Ashibuogwu v AG Bendel State (1988) – SC.25/1986

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COMMON SENSE TO AID IN STATUTORY INTERPRETATION

I believe, most respectfully, that in construing statutes of this nature some measure of good or common sense should be brought to bear on the statutory provisions under construction for the purpose of meeting the mischief the enactment is intended to cure and/or the object of the statute. – Ikyegh, JCA. SIFAX v. MIGFO (2015)

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INTERPRETATION OF S.88(2) CFRN 1999

It cannot escape notice that under section 88(2) above, the 1st defendant can only conduct the stated investigation in two situations for the purpose of enabling it to – (a) Make laws with respect to any matter within its legislative competence and correct any defects in existing laws; and (b) Expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated to it.

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

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WE SHOULD AVOID INTERPRETATION WHICH WOULD REDUCE THE LEGISLATIVE TO FUTILITY

Nokes v. Doncaster Amalgamated Collieries, Limited (1940) A,C, 1014, Viscount Simon, L.C, staled at page 1022: “If the choice is between two interpretations, the narrower of which will fail to achieve the manifest purpose of the legislation, we should avoid a construction which would reduce the legislation to futility and should rather accept the bolder construction based on the view that Parliament would legislate only for the purpose of bringing about an effective result.”

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DEFINITION OF “SECONDMENT”

The term secondment is mostly used in the public service which is not the case in the instant suit. That notwithstanding, the Black’s Law Dictionary at page 1555 defines ‘secondment’ as “a period of time that a worker spends away from his or her usual job”. The court in the case of ALHAJI HAMZA DALHATU v. ATTORNEY GENERAL, KATSINA STATE & ORS (2007) LPELR-8460(CA) also reckoned the meaning of secondment as used in the Public service rules when it stated that: “SECTION 6 – TRANSFERS AND SECONDMENT 02601 – TRANSFER is the permanent release of an officer from one service to another or from one class to another within the same service. SECONDEMENT means the temporary release of an officer to the service of another Government or Body for a specified period.” Per ARIWOOLA, J.C.A. (P.34, paras. A-B).

— Z.M. Bashir, J. Gbaraka v Zenith Securities & Anor. (2020) – NICN/PHC/45/2018

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HEADINGS OF A STATUTE SHOULD BE LOOKED AT TO CLARIFY AMBIGUITY

My Lords, I am persuaded that we must look at the heading of both sections of the statute to clarify any ambiguity. See OGBONNA v. A. G. IMO STATE (1992) 1 NWLR Pt. 220 Pg. 647, OYO STATE BOARD OF INTERNAL REVENUE v. UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN (2013) LPELR 2215.

— H.M. Ogunwumiju, JSC. UBA v Triedent Consulting Ltd. (SC.CV/405/2013, July 07, 2023)

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