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

Dictum

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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GROUNDS UPON WHICH A COURT OF LAW CAN SET ASIDE HIS EARLIER RULING

A court of law has the inherent power to set aside its decision or that of a court of co-ordinate jurisdiction under special circumstances, for instance where the decision is taken without jurisdiction, where a misrepresentation is made which influenced the decision, where there is a suppression of material facts or where the order is irregularly granted. Therefore, in appropriate situations, a court can invoke its inherent jurisdiction or power to set aside its judgment or order where it is made without jurisdiction or in appropriate cases where the order or decision is afflicted by another virus capable of rendering the decision or order ineffective null and void. See, UBA PLC VS. MAGAMA NIGERIA LIMITED & ANOR (2013) LPELR – 20685 (CA), OBIMONURE VS. ERINOSHO & ANOR (1966) LPELR – 25301 (SC) and ALAYA VS. ISAAC (2019) LPELR – 46881 (CA). The law is that where a court makes an ex – parte order (as in the present case) without jurisdiction, the same order could be varied or discharged depending on the circumstances of the case, the grounds under which the court could do so as rightly highlighted by the learned counsel to the Respondent are as follows: (i) If the plaintiff has not used his administrative powers that might have resolved the difficulty; (ii) if default has been made in giving security for costs: (iii) if the affidavit has not been filed when the injunction was moved for; (iv) if it was granted on a suppression or misrepresentation of material facts; (v) if it was irregularly granted; (vi) if the plaintiff failed to attend to be cross examined: (vii) if there had been delay in complying with an undertaking to amend the writ by adding a party as plaintiff; (viii) if there is non-disclosure of material facts.

— C.N. Uwa, JCA. FRN v Ozekhome (2021) – CA/L/174/19

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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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JUDGEMENT MUST BE CONFINED TO PARTIES ISSUES

This is because it is a fundamental principle of the determination of disputes between parties that judgment must be confined to the issues raised by the parties and it is not competent for the court to make a case for either or both of the parties and then proceed to give judgment on the case so formulated contrary to the case of the parties.

– Iguh, JSC. Oshatoba v. Olujitan (2000)

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PARTY NOT BOUND BY JUDGMENT ON VENDOR AFTER LAND PURCHASE

In Mercantile Investment & General Trust Co. v. River Plate Trust, Loan & Agency Co. (1894)1 Ch 578 at 595 said the learned Judge: “Moreover, if the claim of the plaintiff company could be regarded as one affecting land, notwithstanding that no registration of that claim had been made in Mexico, which alone could validly bind the land there, then the English Company would be entitled to say that they were purchasers of the land prior to that action, notwithstanding that their title may also not have been perfected by registration. A prior purchaser of land cannot be estopped as being privy in estate by a judgment obtained in an action against the vendor commenced after the purchase.”

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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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EVERY JUDGEMENT TAKES EFFECT ON PRONOUNCEMENT

In the case of INTERCONTRACTORS NIGERIA LTD v. U.A.C. OF NIGERIA LTD (supra) or (1988) (Pt. 1) Vol. 9 NSCC 737 at 752. This court per KARIBI WHYTE JSC stated:- “It is well settled that every judgment takes effect on pronouncement – see BANK OF WEST AFRICA LTD v. N.I.P.C LTD [1962] LLR 31; OLAYINKA v. ELUSANMI [1971] 1 NMLR 277. A judgment debtor seeking to stay the execution must show that he is challenging the judgment, or is asking for time to comply with the terms of the judgment.”

— D. Musdapher JSC. M.O. Olatunji v. Owena Bank (PLC) & Anor. (SC.349/2002, 25 April 2008)

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