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THE JUDICIOUS AND FAIR ACTING OF A MINISTER

Dictum

A Minister is a public officer charged by the Legislature of this Country with the duty of discharging a public discretion affecting the citizens. He must discharge that function judiciously and act fairly, justly and in good faith in the interest of peace, order and good government. Where the Minister is confronted with the decision of renewing the license as in the instant case, he cannot shut his eyes to the reality of the time and take a decision that is diametrically opposed to his statutory responsibility under our law. Doing that will not only work against the interest of peace, order and good government it will lead to a failure of the very essence of his ministerial office.

– Adah, JCA. Petroleum Resources v. SPDC (2021)

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MINISTER MUST DISCHARGE FUNCTION JUDICIOUSLY

A Minister is a public officer charged by the legislature of this country with the duty, of discharging a public discretion affecting, the citizens. He must discharge that function judiciously.

– Aniagolu JSC. Stitch v. AG (1986)

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MINISTER MUST ACT FAIRLY WITHOUT PREJUDICE TO CITIZEN

The principle basic in all common law countries, including Nigeria, is that under the universally accepted Rule of Law, the Minister must act fairly and not to the prejudice of the citizen.

– Aniagolu JSC. Stitch v. AG (1986)

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DEFINITION OF A MINISTER

In Stitch v. AG, Federation & ors [1986] LPELR-3119(SC), a case cited by the defendant but which proper citation the defendant did not give, His Lordship Aniagolu, JSC in the leading judgment defined a Minister as: “…a public officer charged by the Legislature of this country with the duty of discharging a public discretion affecting the citizens. He must discharge that function judiciously”.

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MINISTER’S POWER IS NOT UNLIMITED

In Padfield & Ors. v. Minister Of Agriculture Fisheries and Food & Qrs. (1968) A.C. 997 it was held, inter alia, that where Parliament conferred a discretion on the Minister so that it could be used to promote the policy and objects of the Act which were to be determined by the construction of the Act, the issue was one of law for the courts; that although there might be reasons which would justify the Minister in refusing to refer the complaint in that case to a Committee of Investigations, his discretion was not unlimited and if it appeared that the effect of his refusal to appoint a Committee of Investigations was to frustrate the policy of the Act, the court was entitled to interfere.

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WHITE CAP CHIEF & PUBLIC POLICY

and as far as what I may call public policy is concerned it is just as important that members of the public should know that they may safely deal with a White Cap Chief as the person empowered, subject to the usual consents, to dispose of the family land, as that the interests of the fam-ily should be secured. – Brett F.J. Ajibola v. Ojora (1961)

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MINISTER’S POWER NOT EXERCISED IMPROPERLY

Padfield (supra) was decided in 1966 and ten years later, in 1976, Laker Airways Ltd v Department of Trade (1977) Q.B. 643 decided that the exercise of the Crown’s prerogative being discretionary, the courts are entitled to see that it is not exercised improperly or mistakenly; and it would be improper to cancel the designation of the Airline, by use of the prerogative power, at a stage when all the necessary steps had been completed – a cancellation which threatened the subject with material loss.

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