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COURT MAY EXAMINE DECISIONS OF SIMILAR JURISDICTION

Dictum

Where there is no established precedent in this jurisdiction, the Court may examine the decisions of Courts in other similar jurisdictions for guidance. It is conceded that they are of persuasive authority only. In the Indian and English authorities cited by learned counsel for the applicants, I am persuaded that having regard to the fact that the decision of the lower Court affects the pecuniary interest of the applicants in the estate of the deceased and they are not seeking to pursue the appeal against the conviction and sentence of the deceased, the justice of the case requires that they be permitted to challenge the decision on Ground 9 only.

— K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun JSC. Abdullahi v. Nigerian Army (SC.433/2010(R), 25 MAY 2018)

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SIX YEARS FOR REGISTRATION OF JUDGEMENT CAN ONLY APPLY WHERE MINISTER HAS EXERCISED HIS POWER

In 1961, the Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcements) Act (Cap. 152) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria was enacted. Under section 4(1), the period within which a foreign judgment may be registered in Nigeria was extended to six years from the date of such judgment. But section 3(1) of the Act makes the applicability of the six years’ period subject to an order by the Minister of Justice directing that Part I of the Act [which includes section 4(1)] shall extend to a relevant foreign country … Section 9 of the Act preserves the effect of the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Ordinance until an order envisaged under section 3(1) is made by the Minister. This relates to all foreign judgments including those given in the United Kingdom which should be registered within 12 months or such longer period the court may allow them.

— S.O. Uwaifo, JSC. Macaulay v RZB (2003) – SC.109/2002

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THE 1958 RECIPROCAL ACT APPLIES SINCE THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE IS YET TO MAKE AN ORDER UNDER THE 1990 ACT

Taking into consideration that Part I of the Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act, CAP 152 of the Laws of the Federation, 1990, comprising Sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, is to come into force only at the instance of the Minister of Justice by an order issued by him as specified in Section 3 of the Act, and in the absence of this order directing the application of Part I of the Act to the chosen countries specified in the order, the provisions of the earlier 1958 Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act CAP 175, remains applicable to the registration of foreign Judgments in Nigeria, particularly Judgments of the United Kingdom, one of which is the subject of this appeal. In other words Section 6 of the 1990, Act which was relied upon by the parties at the Courts below and interpreted and applied by the Court of Appeal below in its Judgment, is yet to come into force in the absence of the Order to bring it into force together with the other Sections in Part I of the Act by the Hon. Minister of Justice. This situation makes it necessary to fall back to the 1958 Ordinance to determine whether or not the Foreign Judgment of the Appellant was registrable under that Act.

— M. Mohammed, JSC. Grosvenor v Halaloui (2009) – SC.373/2002

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FOREIGN DECISIONS ARE ONLY OF PERSUASIVE VALUE

In Olafisoye v. FRN (2004) 4 NWLR (Pt. 864) 580, Niki Tobi JSC (God bless his soul) had emphatically held inter alia thus: Decisions of Foreign Countries are merely of persuasive authority. This Court will certainly allow itself to be persuaded in appropriate cases but this Court will not stray away from its course of interpreting the Nigerian Constitution by resorting to foreign decisions which were decided strictly in the context of their Constitution and which are not similar to ours. See also Okon v. The State (1988) 1 NWLR (Pt. 69) 172 @ p. 180, where Nnemeka-Agu, JSC had stated inter alia thus: ”It is well to remember not only that a foreign decision should at best be of persuasive authority in a Nigerian Court but also that before it can even qualify as such, the legislation, substantive or adjectival, upon which it was based must be in pari materia with our own. It is dangerous to follow a foreign decision simply because its wording approximates to our own. Nigerian Courts are obliged to give Nigerian Legislation its natural and ordinary meaning, taking into account our own sociological circumstances as well as other factors which form the background of our Local Legislation in question. A Copy-Cat transportation of an English decision may in some circumstance turn out to be inimical to justice in our own Courts. See also Adetoun Oladeji (Nig) Ltd v. Nigerian Breweries PLC (2007) LPELR 160 (SC) Dada v. The State (1977) NCLR 135; Eliochin Nig. Ltd. v. Mbadiwe (1986) 1 NWLR (Pt. 14) 47; Nigerian National Supply Co. Ltd v. Alhaji Hamajode Sabana Co. Ltd (No 3) (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt. 74) 23: Senator Adesanya v. President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1981) 5 SC 112; Yahaya v. State (2002) 3 NWLR (Pt. 754) 289.

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REGISTERING COURT DOES NOT SIT AS APPELLATE COURT OVER FOREIGN JUDGEMENT

I will also add that it is not the duty of the court entertaining an application for the registration of a foreign judgment to sit as an appellate court over the foreign judgment. The respondent to the judgment sought to be registered is expected to have exercised its right of appeal under the laws of the foreign country. All that the court to which the application is made needs to do is to ensure that the appellant complies with the requirements of our laws on registration of foreign judgment. I believe that the requirements were met in this case.

— S.A. Akintan, JSC. Witt Ltd. v Dale Power (2007) – SC.240/2000

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ORIGINAL COURT WHICH GAVE JUDGEMENT DOES NOT LOSE JURISDICTION IN RELATION TO THE EXECUTION PROCESS

I am in agreement with the learned counsel for the respondent, that the original court which gave judgment does not lose its jurisdiction in relation to the execution process in the case just because the judgment has been registered in a foreign country. But, once it is recognised that a registering court has the same power with respect to execution as the original court, it becomes important to monitor closely what the registering court is doing in relation to the execution of a particular registered judgment in order to ensure that there is no conflict in the exercise of powers as to execution between the registering court and the court which originally gave the judgment.

— Oguntade, JCA. Adwork Ltd. v Nigeria Airways Ltd. (1999) – CA/L/156/99

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REGISTRATION OF FOREIGN JUDGEMENT DOES NOT DEPRIVE THE ORIGINAL COURT OF JURISDICTION

I agree that the registration of a judgment in a foreign Court for purposes of execution does not rob the original court of its jurisdiction over the matter and the execution of its judgment. For, the judgment-creditor could be enforcing the judgment in both jurisdictions wherever he can find the debtor’s property. But the matter in issue herein, which in my view had been decided by the registering court in England which had jurisdiction so to do, and the Arbitrator duly appointed by consent of parties in accordance with the “compromise” order of the registering court, ought not be relitigated in the original court in Nigeria. I should think that doing so tantamount to either asking the Nigerian Court to sit on appeal over the decision of another Court which had already exercised coordinate jurisdiction available to either Court, or setting aside the award of the Arbitrator which the Respondent had not challenged in accordance with the known principles governing arbitral proceedings.

— Nzeako, JCA. Adwork Ltd. v Nigeria Airways Ltd. (1999) – CA/L/156/99

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