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A COURT WILL TAKE JUDICIAL NOTICE OF HIS JUDGEMENT, REPORTED OR UNREPORTED

Dictum

I think it is fairly well settled and not a matter of argument that a court will take judicial notice of its records and proceedings. In respect of the valid judgments of a court of Record, the court will readily take judicial notice of its judgments reported and unreported. I would not draw any distinction between panels of the same court. A decision of one panel is a decision of the Court and each Panel will take judicial notice of it. In my view, it is only for convenience that published report of valid judgments of court or copies of its unreported judgments are brought before a court. They need not be, they could just be cited.

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

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JUDICIAL OFFICER WHO DID NOT HEAR A CASE CANNOT GIVE A JUDGEMENT OR JOIN IN GIVING OPINION ON IT

The genesis of what brought about the improper constitution of the tribunal when it sat and delivered a ruling on 9 September 2015, has been clearly set out in the lead reasoning. I only re-iterate the position of the law that a judicial officer of whatever jurisdiction, who did not participate in court in taking proceedings in respect of the suit/case in question, has no legal right or capacity to express an opinion in determining dispute between parties in that suit/case where he did not participate at the hearing level of the suit/case. If he does so, the decision delivered in which such a judicial officer participated is a nullity as the court/tribunal was not properly constituted. See Madukolu v. Nkemdilim (1962) 2 SCNLR 341; Adeigbe v. Kushimo (1965) All NLR 260 at 263, Sokoto State Govt. v. Kamdex (Nig.) Ltd (2007) 7 NWLR (Pt. 1034) 492 at 497; Ubwa v. Tiv Area Traditional Council (2004) 11 NWLR (Pt. 884) at 4361. If a decision is a nullity, it cannot confer jurisdiction on same court/ tribunal or any other court or tribunal. One cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand. It will collapse. See Macfoy v. United African Company Ltd (1961) 3 WLR 1405 at 1409, (1962) 5 SCNLR 152.

— I.T. Muhammad, JSC. Nyesom v. Peterside (SC.1002/2015 (REASONS), 12 Feb 2016)

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NATURE OF A CONCURRING JUDGEMENT

In Ziakade Akpobolokemi v Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho (2016) LPELR -40563(CA) thus: “A concurring judgment complements, edifies and adds to the leading judgment. It could at times be an improvement of the leading judgment when the justices add to it certain aspects which the writer of the leading judgment did not remember to deal with. In so far as a concurring judgment performs some or all the above functions, it has equal force with or as the leading judgment in so far as the principles of stare decisis are concerned.”

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COURT CANNOT TAKE JUDICIAL NOTICE OF A NULLIFIED JUDGEMENT NOT PRODUCED BEFORE IT

Whether the record and contents of a nullified judgment ought formally be produced in court or extract thereof be placed before the court before the opinions expressed therein could be countenanced; or whether the Court of Appeal could have taken notice of their existence and contents by the mere fact that the nullified judgment was probably in the archives of the court. In Attorney-General v. Silem L.R. 10 H.L. Cas. 704, it was held that S.26 of the Queens Remembrance Act, 1859, which empowered the Barons of Exchequer to frame rules for making “the process, practice and mode of pleading” on the revenue side of the court uniform with that of the plea side, did not give the Judges the power of entertaining appeals on revenue cases, as they assumed. It is always necessary to exercise powers conferred by an enabling statute within the four comers of the statute: see Australian cases of Tavcar v. Tavcar (1950) A.L.R. 260; White v. White (1947) A.L.R. 342. It therefore appears to me that the power, conferred by S.73(1) of the Evidence Act, for a court to take judicial notice of its course of proceedings and rules of practice cannot rightly be invoked to take judicial notice of the contents of a nullified judgment, which the members had not earlier had an opportunity of seeing. For, true, it existed as a fact, being devoid of any legal consequences, it was then like any other opinion, say, in a textbook. I do not think that anybody can suggest that such a textbook opinion should be judicially noticed.

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

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EXECUTORY JUDGEMENT VS DECLARATORY JUDGEMENT

Executory judgment declares the respective rights of the parties and then proceeds to order the defendant to act in a particular way. e.g. to pay damages or refrain from interfering with the plaintiffs’ rights, such order being enforceable by execution if disobeyed. Declaratory judgments, on the other hand, merely proclaim the existence of a legal relationship and do not contain any order which may be enforced against the defendant. Second: A declaratory judgment may be the ground of subsequent proceedings in which the right, having been violated, receives enforcement but in the meantime there is no enforcement or any claim to it … A declaratory judgment is complete in itself since the relief is the declaration. See Vol. 1 Halbury Laws, 4th Ed., para. 185 187; Akunnia v. Attorney General of Anambra State (1977) 5 S.C. (161 at 177).

— Agbaje JSC. Okoya & Ors. V. S. Santilli & Ors. ( SC.206/1989, 23 MAR 1990)

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THE ONLY FOUNDATION FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE IS THAT IT HAS TO BE COMMON KNOWLEDGE

It follows from what I have been saying that every matter entitled to be judicially noticed has its appropriate and necessary foundation without which it cannot be judicially noticed. It must be noted that judicial notice is an anomalous appendage in the law relating to proof. Some regard it as part of the law of evidence; but then it has not the trammel of the law of evidence, such as scrutiny under cross-examination, the rules of admissibility, and so on. Save in such cases as ascertainment of notorious custom and of the practice of the Court of Chancery, in which evidence may be required before judicially noticeable in the first instance, it has really nothing to do with the rules of evidence. What is necessary in the case of judicial notice is a proper foundation for that particular type of fact before it could be judicially noticed. That foundation may be common knowledge, common knowledge reinforced by such information material as the Judge may deem it necessary to consult under Section 73(2) of the Evidence Act, statute, the common law, and acquired knowledge under section 73(3) of the Act (See: -Nokes: The Limits of Judicial Notice – 74 L.Q.R. 59). As I have stated, judicial notice founded on common knowledge is founded on the Judge’s actual knowledge, experience and memory as a member of society; sometimes however, he finds it necessary to refresh his memory by reference to records, books and reports. The material foundation of notice of a statute is the production of a copy of the statute; that of any official act is the production of the Official Gazette. Where the matter to be noticed is an acquired knowledge, the only foundation is the production of the book, document, or other material, which will enable the court to do so under section 73(3) of the Act.

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

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COURT JUDGEMENT IS VALID UNTIL APPEALED AGAINST

The law is settled that the judgment of any competent Court, once perfected, and not appealed against, is valid and subsisting until it is set aside by competent Court or authority.

– Kekere-ekun JSC. Adegbanke v. Ojelabi (2021)

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