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

Dictum

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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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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ONLY WHEN ERROR IN JUDGEMENT OF COURT BELOW IS SUBSTANTIAL THAT APPEAL WILL BE ALLOWED

At all events, it is not every mistake or error in a judgment that will result in the appeal being allowed. It is only when the error is substantial in that it has occasioned a miscarriage of Justice that the appellate court is bound to interfere. See Onajobi v. Olanipekun (1985) 4 S.C. (Pt.2) 156 at 163; Oje v. Babalola (1991) 4 NWLR (Pt.185) 267 at 282; Ukejianya v. Uchendu (1950) 13WACA 45 at 46; Azuetonma Ike v. Ugboaja (1993) 6 NWLR (Pt.30 1)539 at 556; Ahiodun Famuroti v. Madam Agbeke (1991) 5 NWLR (Pt.189) 1; (1991) 6 S.CN.J. 54 at 64 etc. No miscarriage 1 of justice has been occasioned by the observation of the court below that the return of the title deeds to the 1st appellant during the pendency of the appeal had put an end to the dispute.

— Iguh, JSC. Onamade v ACB (1997) – SC.199/1990

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OUT OF NOTHING, NOTHING CAN ARISE; NOTHING CAN COME FORTH OF A JUDGEMENT THAT IS A NULLITY

The aforesaid attempt by respondents’ counsel to influence this court, consisting of a different panel of Justices, by the previous but nullified conclusions-even though described as opinions-of its predecessors in respect of the same appeal is, in my view, a novel and an improper one. As rightly submitted by learned Counsel for the appellants a judgment set aside as a nullity ceases to have any effect whatsoever, for it is non-existent and as if it had never been given. I therefore agree with the conclusion of appellants’ counsel that such judgment “cannot constitute an opinion of the court that gave it, for out of nothing, nothing can arise.” Reference was specially made to the cases of Akpene v. Barclays Bank (1977)1 S.C. 47 at 59 where the Supreme Court adopted the view of Lord Denning in Macfoy v. United African Company Ltd. (1961) 3 W.L.R. (P.C.) 1405 at 1409, to the effect that: “You cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stay there. It will collapse.”

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

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ONCE A COURT DELIVERS JUDGEMENT IT IS FUNCTUS OFFICIO; EXCEPTIONS THAT EXISTS

It is settled law that once a Court has delivered its decision on a matter, it becomes functus officio with regard to that matter. What this means is that a Court cannot sit as an appellate Court over its decision; once it has decided a matter, it ceases to be seized of it, and it cannot re-open it for any purpose whatsoever – see Ogboru V. Ibori (2005) 13 NWLR (Pt. 942) 319 Sun Insurance V. LMBS Ltd. (2005) 12 NWLR (Pt 940) 608, Ukachukwu V. Uba (2005) 18 NWLR (Pt 956) 1, Ubeng V. Usua (2006) 12 NWLR (Pt 994) 244 and Onyekweli V. INEC (2009) 6 NWLR (Pt 1136) 13. But the law also says that Courts of record have the inherent jurisdiction to set aside their Judgments/decision/order, in appropriate cases. When a. The Judgment is obtained by fraud or deceit either in the Court or of one or more of the Parties; b The Judgment is a nullity; c. It is obvious that the Court was misled into giving Judgment under a mistaken belief that the parties consented to it; d. The Judgment was given in the absence of jurisdiction; e. The proceedings adopted was such as to deprive the decision or Judgment of the character of a legitimate adjudication; or f. Where there is fundamental irregularity. See Alao V. ACB (2000) 9 NWLR (Pt 672) 264, Tomtec (Nig.) Ltd. V. FHA. (2009) 16 NWLR (Pt 1173) 358 SC, and Jev V. lyortom (supra).

— A.A. Augie, JCA. Elias v Ecobank (2016) – CA/L/873/2013

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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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A CONCURRING OPINION HAS EQUAL WEIGHT AND FORCE AS A LEAD JUDGEMENT

It is settled law that a contributory or concurring judgment has equal weight as the lead judgment. It is part of the lead judgment and therefore has the same force and binding effect. The mere fact that a concurring or contributory judgment contains what is not in the lead judgment will not whittle down its binding effect. Thus in Olufeagba & Ors v. Abdur Raheem (2009) LPELR-2613(SC), my Lord Fabiyi, JSC said: “A concurring judgment, has equal weight with or as a lead judgment. A concurring judgment compliments, edifies and adds to the lead judgment, when the justice, add to it certain aspects which the writer of the lead judgment did not remember to deal with. In so far as a concurring judgment performs same or all the above functions, it has equal force with or as the lead judgment in so far as the principles of stare decisis are concerned.”

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

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