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CIRCUMSTANCES A COURT OF LAW WILL DECIDE AN ISSUE SUO MOTO

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In addition, a court can take an issue and decide on it suo motu in the circumstances stated in the case of Blessing Toyin Omokuwajo V. Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) (2013) 9 NWLR (pt. 1359) 300 at 332 per the illuminating judgment prepared by Rhodes – Vivour, J.S.C., thus- “The need to give parties a hearing when a Judge raises an issue on his own motion or suo motu would not be necessary if: (a) the issue relates to the court’s own jurisdiction. (b) both parties are/were aware or ignored a statute which may have a bearing on the case. That is to say where by virtue of statutory provision the Judge is expected to take judicial notice. See Section 73 of the Evidence Act. (c) when on the face of the record serious questions of the fairness of the proceedings is evidence.”

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WHERE A COURT RAISES AN ISSUE SUO MOTO

It is settled law that where a court raises an issue, suo motu it must afford the parties or their counsel the opportunity of addressing the court on the issue so raised so as to ensure that the rules of fair hearing are adhered to for the purpose of doing justice to the parties.

– Onnoghen JSC. Dalek v. OMPADEC (2007)

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PARTIES MUST ADDRESS ON ISSUE RAISED SUO MOTO

It is wrong for an appellate court to raise an issue suo motu and determine the issue without giving the parties or their counsel the opportunity to argue the point.

– Adio, JSC. UBN v. Ozigi (1994)

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COURT SHOULD NOT RAISE AND DECIDE ISSUES SUO MOTO

In regard to the second issue, that is, as to the court’s action in formulating its own issues suo motu and without calling upon learned counsel to address him, this court has always frowned upon a Court of Appeal arrogating to itself determination of issues that were not placed before it. The Court of Appeal has constitutional jurisdiction to take appeals from decisions in criminal or civil proceedings before the High Court and not proceedings which were not before the High Court. A Court of Appeal in its majesty awaits the decisions of the High Court and not manufacture decisions to be appealed against. To say the least it is not even dignifying.

— Eso, JSC. Saude v. Abdullahi (1989) – SC.197/1987

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COURT CAN APPLY RELEVANT LAW SUO MOTO

In the case of Galadima v. Tambai the court while upholding the power of the court to take notice of and apply all relevant laws or enactments including subsidiary legislation, it added that the court can even do so without calling on both counsel to address it before doing so.

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A TRIAL JUDGE MAY EXPUNGE DOCUMENT SUO MOTO

The law is elementary that a trial Judge has the right to expunge from the record a document which he wrongly or wrongfully admitted. He can do so suo motu at the point of writing judgment. He needs no prompting from any of the parties, although a party is free to call his attention to the document at the stage of address. Where a trial Judge is wrong in expunging a document, the appellate process will correct it and so an argument that the Judge ought to have expunged the document suo motu at the stage of writing judgment, will not avail the party wronged. After all, it is better for a Judge to expunge suo motu a document which is clearly inadmissible under the Evidence Act than allow it to be on the record to give headache to the appellate court. As the appellate court has the competence to expunge it from the record, why not the trial Judge?

– Niki Tobi, JSC. Brossette v. Ilemobola (2007)

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IT MUST BE SHOWN THAT SUO MOTO ISSUES RAISED AFFECTED THE RIGHT OF THE PARTY COMPLAINING

Looking at the judgment, I observe that although the learned Justice has dealt with issues that never arose from the grounds argued, he adverted to the issues formulated by counsel. He set out the submissions of counsel after stating the facts in detail. The learned Justice, however, under the issues formulated by him, dealt with the issues formulated by the appellant and the respondent. The excursion to other issues raised Suo motu, though uncalled for, does not spell fatality to the judgment since the proper issues were covered. That disposes of the 2nd issue.

— Obaseki, JSC. Saude v. Abdullahi (1989) – SC.197/1987

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