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RENEWAL OF OIL MINING LEASE II (OML II) IS DISCRETIONARY

Dictum

The renewal of Oil Mining Lease II (OML II) falls squarely within the powers and discretion of the Honourable Minister of Petroleum Resources and the renewal of such lease may be with new terms and conditions. The Appellants have offered to renew the Oil Mining Lease for the Respondent on new terms and conditions. The Respondent refused and failed to accept the offer. The Respondent cannot dictate to the Appellants, the terms and conditions under which the renewal of the lease could be crystallized. The 1st Appellant acted within his powers and in accordance with the Petroleum Act, 2004 earlier referred to. The lower Court greatly erred in law in deciding the questions raised for determination and the reliefs sought against the Appellants.

– OLABISI IGE, JCA. Petroleum Resources v. SPDC (2021)

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WHERE APPEAL COURT WILL NOT SET ASIDE DISCRETION OF LOWER COURT

A court of appeal will not set aside a discretion exercised by the Court below if it is judicially exercised i.e. it is not arbitrary, or based on extraneous or irrelevant materials.

– Nnamani, JSC. Adejumo v. Ayantegbe (1989)

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TRIAL JUDGE DISCRETION FOR LOCUS IN QUO; LOCUS IN QUO

It is clearly at the discretion of the trial Judge to determine whether in the light of the evidence before him, there is need to resolve, by a visit to the locus in quo, the conflict of evidence or clear a doubt as to the accuracy of a piece of evidence when there is such conflict of evidence.

– Nweze JSC. Abdullahi v. Adetutu (2019)

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A JUDGE’S DISCRETION: WHAT IS FAIR AND JUST ACCORDING TO THE CIRCUMSTANCE OF THE CASE

I shall, in treating this issue, begin by saying that the line between a proper exercise of judicial discretion and an abuse of that discretion is not readily definable and it may be, that the term “abuse of discretion” means no more than that the decision below fell outside the permissible limits as viewed by the appellate court or that the Court of Appeal is of the opinion that the trial court should have decided otherwise. The resort of “discretion” at all times could turn to be an unruly horse. As Justice William Douglas in State of New York v. United States (1951) 342 US 822, opined at page 884 and I quote: “Absolute discretion, like corruption marks the beginning of the end of liberty.” Lord Simon of Glaisdale expressing the traditional view on the exercise of judicial discretion by a Judge said in D. v. NSPCC (1978) A.C 171 at page 239 and I quote:-. “And if it comes to the forensic crunch … it must be law, but discretion, which is in command.” Summing up the above dicta, in my words of definition, I will say an issue falls within a Judge’s discretion if, being governed by no rule of law, its resolution depends on the individual Judge’s assessment of what is fair and just to do in the particular case. A Judge has no discretion in making his findings of fact, he has no discretion in his rulings of the law. If a Judge, having made any necessary finding of fact and any necessary ruling on law, it seems to me clear that he has to choose between different causes of action, orders, penalties or remedies he then exercises a discretion. Let me reiterate that it is only when a trial Judge reaches a stage at which he asks himself, what is the fair and just thing to do or order in the instant case that he embarks on the exercise of a discretion. However, where the situation is governed by the rule of law, as in the instant case, which touches on admissibility of a document where the provisions of the Evidence Act come into play, although the court may have its own discretion, such discretion must be exercised according to the ordinary principles laid down in the Evidence Act as set out above. Its judicial discretion is founded upon those principles. And if a trial Judge refuses to do so, then the appellate court will set the matter right. See R. v. Stafford Justices (1940) 2 K.B. 33 at 43.

— P.O. Aderemi JSC. Musa Abubakar v. E.I. Chuks (SC.184/2003, 14 DEC 2007)

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THE EXERCISE OF DISCRETION IS BASED ON FACTS

In ADIGWE v. FRN (2015) 18 NWLR (pt. 1490) 105 this Court reiterated the point that “the exercise of discretion is not based on mere judgment of the person doing so but upon facts on circumstances necessary for the proper exercise of that discretion”. See also OYEGUN v. NZERIBE (2010) 41 NSCQR 127 at 147.

— E. Eko, JSC. Francis v. FRN (2020) – SC.810/2014

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POWER TO TRANSFER CASE TO ANOTHER DIVISION IS DISCRETIONARY – FHC

There is no doubt that the starting point with regards to the territorial jurisdiction of the Federal High Court is the statutorily codified and judicially noticed principle that the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court is one and nationwide. It is also however settled that same has been divided into Judicial Divisions and where a crime has been committed, such crime ought to be prosecuted in the Judicial Division of the Federal High Court in the State or States where any of the elements of the crime was allegedly committed, or one that is close to it, subject to the power of transfer, by which a matter may be tried outside the State of commission upon compelling reasons to so do. The foregoing is in my view the import of the Provisions of Sections, Section 45 of the Federal high Court Act; and Sections 93, 98, 385, 386 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, relied on by both parties. — J.Y. Tukur, JCA. Fani-Kayode v. FRN & Ors. (2019) – CA/L/722C/2018

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DISCRETION OF TRIAL COURT WILL ONLY BE INTERFERED WITH WHERE IT IS ABSURD

In ANYAH v. AFRICAN NEWSPAPER OF NIG. LTD. [1992] NWLR (Pt. 247) Pg.319; (1992) LPELR-511 (SC) Pg.20-21, Paras. G – A the Supreme Court of Nigeria pertinently stated that: “It is not in all cases that an appeal Court will interfere with the exercise of discretion by a trial judge, simply because it did not favour one of the parties litigating before him. The Court will not interfere with the exercise of discretion in the absence of proof that it was wrongly exercised. You cannot lay down hard and fast rules as to the exercise of judicial discretion by a Court, for the moment you do that, the discretion is fettered.” See also the decision of the Supreme Court in OLATUBOSUN v. TEXACO NIG. PLC (2012) LPELR-7805 (SC) Pg. 18, Paras. C – D where it was held that “…an appellate Court like ours will not interfere with the exercise of discretion of the Court below merely because this Court would have acted differently…This Court will only interfere where the discretion exercised is manifestly wrong, arbitrary, reckless and injudicious.” Also, in FALEYE and ORS v. DADA and ORS (2016) LPELR- 40297 (SC) Pg.33-34, Paras. E – C, the Supreme Court of Nigeria per MUHAMMAD JSC held as follows: “…This Court has stated it times without number that it is none of its functions or indeed that of an appellate Court to substitute its own views of the evidence for those of the trial Court that is better placed to deal with those matters. The appellate High Court could only have interfered with findings of facts of the trial Customary Court when the findings are perverse and/or consequent upon improper exercise of judicial discretion further resulting in miscarriage of justice…”

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