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A SEPARATE PANEL CANNOT TAKE JUDICIAL NOTICE OF NULLIFIED JUDGEMENT OF ANOTHER EARLIER PANEL

Dictum

In argument, we were not referred to any decided case that appeared to have answered the basic problem in the above questions. I shall therefore attempt to answer them inferentially from some decided cases and from general principles. In the case of Craven V. Smith (1869) L.R. 4 Exch. 146 which was referred to in argument, it is clear from a careful reading of the report that what the court was held to be entitled to look at was the lawful record of the same panel of the court in the same case. It cannot, therefore, be regarded as supporting a case like this in which the question is whether a separate panel can take notice of the nullified judgment of an earlier panel. Even though the courts in England took judicial notice of the law of England as administered in the Court of Chancery (for which see e.g. Sims v. Marryatt 17 Q.B. 281), yet the practice of that court was earlier proved by oral evidence before it would be noticed. Hence in Dicas v. Brougham Ltd M. & Rob, 309, Lord Eldon had to be called as a witness to prove that practice. In Tucker V. Inman 4 M & Gr 1049 an equity counsel was called for the same purpose. In Place V. Potts 8 Exch. 705 at the invitation of counsel, the court made its own inquiry and informed itself as to the jurisdiction of the Court of Admiralty. See also Williams V. Lloyd 1 M & Gr. 671.

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

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ONCE JUDGEMENT IS DELIVERED, THE OBLIGATION OF SURETY CEASES

It need be examined the extent of duty and responsibility of the 1st and 2nd respondents as sureties to the 3rd respondent who was standing trial before the Court of trial and that obligation is to ensure that the 3rd respondent attended trial from the inception of trial to judgment delivery and that is what the bail bond entails. Therefore by the effect of the combined provisions of Sections 119, 120, 122, 127, 128, 137, 141 and 143 of the Criminal Procedure Act, the forfeiture of the bail bond is contemplated during the criminal trial and not after a discharge and acquittal of the accused/3rd respondent. This is because once judgment is delivered resulting either in conviction or discharge and acquittal, the obligation of the surety ceases to exist. The implication is that the application for forfeiture which the appellant brought after the judgment which culminated in the discharge and acquittal of the 3rd respondent cannot be explained within any law known in our nation since by that time the exercise of jurisdiction of the trial Court over the matter that had to do with the charge on which the 3rd respondent faced had terminated. What I am trying to say is that the appellant was trying by the Motion for forfeiture of the bail bond to resurrect a dead and buried process which the Court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain.

— M.U. Peter-Odili, JSC. FRN v Maishanu (2019) – SC.51/2015

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JUDGEMENT OF COURT REMAINS VALID UNTIL SET ASIDE; COURT OF COORDINATE JURISDICTION CANNOT SET ASIDE COORDINATE COURT JUDGEMENT

It is now settled firstly, that a judgment or order of a court of competent jurisdiction, remain valid and effective, unless it is set aside by an appeal court or by the lower court itself if it found that it acted without jurisdiction. See the cases of Ogueze v. Ojiako (1962),SCNLR 112; (1962) 11 All NLR 58 at 61; Williams v. Sanusi (1961) All NLR 334 at 337; Odiase v. Agbo (1972) 1 All NLR (Pt.1) 170 at 176; Melifonwu v. Egbuyi (1982) 9 SC 145; Ajao v. Alao (1986) 5 NWLR (Pt. 45) 802 at 823 and many others. Secondly, in the absence of statutory authority or except where the judgment or order is a nullity, one Judge, has no power, to set aside or vary the order of another Judge of concurrent and co-ordinate jurisdiction. See the cases of Amanabu v. Okafor (1966) 1 All NLR 205 at 207; Okorodudu v. Ejuetami (1967) NMLR 282 at 283; Akporue & Anor v. Okei (1973) 12 SC 137; Uku v. Okumagba (1974)1 All NLR (Pt. 1)475; Wimpey(Nig.)Ltd. v. Balogun (1986) 3 NWLR (Pt. 28) 324 at 331 and Orthopaedic Hospital Management Board v. B. B. Apugo & Sons Ltd. (1990) 1 NWLR (Pt.129) 652 at 657 just to mention but a few. The rationale or reason for this, is because, it is now firmly established that there is only one High Court in a State.

— I.F. Ogbuagu, JSC. Witt Ltd. v Dale Power (2007) – SC.240/2000

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NULL JUDGEMENTS BECOME MERE DOCUMENTS; COURT CANNOT TAKE JUDICIAL NOTICE OF ALL DOCUMENTS IN HIS REGISTRY

As stated earlier, such judgments exist not as judgments but as documents. They become documents as any other document in the Registry of the court. It would be most tedious to argue that the court could take judicial notice of every document in its registry. Section 73 of the Evidence Act deals with matters, which the court can take judicial notice of. As stated earlier, a judgment declared null exists in fact, it exists as a document in the Registry. In my view, if any party to proceedings desires to make use of such document, it has to be produced before the court. Section 73(3) of the Evidence Act provides that:-“If the Court is called upon by any person to take judicial notice of any facts, it may refuse to do so unless and until such person produces any such book or document as it may consider necessary to enable it to do so.”

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

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IT IS BETTER TO HAVE A BAD JUDGEMENT QUICKLY THAN A GOOD ONE TOO LATE

Furthermore, like I equally pointed out in the considered Bench ruling of 11 May 2023, citing Mr Victor Adegboyu v. UBA unreported Appeal No. CA/IL/20/2021, the judgment of which was delivered on 14 April 2022 per His Lordship Amadi, JCA, time is of the essence in labour adjudication; and so the mantra of labour adjudication is: it is better to have a bad judgment quickly, than a good one too late. See The Federal Polytechnic, Mubi v. Mr Emmanuel Peter Wahatana unreported Appeal No. CA/YL/175M/2021, the ruling of which was delivered on 27 April 2023 per His Lordship Affen, JCA.

— B.B. Kanyip, J. FG v. ASUU (2023) – NICN/ABJ/270/2022

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NATURE OF A DECLARATORY JUDGMENT

A Declaratory judgment or order is one that proclaims or declares the existence of a legal relationship, but does not contain any order which may be enforced against the defendant. Once rights declared in a declaratory judgment are infringed fresh proceedings are needed for enforcement. Declaratory judgments cannot be enforced by execution, as there is nothing to enforce. So where a court delivers a declaratory judgment, the party appealing may be granted an injunction if he deserves it but never a stay of execution pending the determination of the appeal.

– Rhodes-Vivour, JSC. Olabomi v. Oyewinle (2013) – SC.345/2012

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ARBITRAL AWARDS HAVE SAME FORCE AS A JUDGEMENT OF A COURT

Onwu v. Nka (1996) 7 NWLR (Pt.458) 1 at 17 paragraph E, where the Supreme Court, per Iguh JSC. had this to say: “The law is well settled that where disputes or matters in difference between two or more parties are by consent of the disputants submitted to a domestic forum inclusive of arbitrators or a body of persons who may be invested with judicial authority to hear and determine such disputes and matters for investigation in accordance with customary law and general usages, and a decision is duly given, it is as conclusive and unimpeachable (unless and until set aside on any of the recognized grounds) as the decision of any constituted court of the land, such a decision is consequently binding on the parties and the courts in appropriate cases will enforce it.”

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