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COURT SHOULD AVOID INTERPRETATION THAT WOULD REDUCE THE LEGISLATURE TO FUTILITY

Dictum

Where there are two choices of interpretation. The court should always avoid the interpretation that would reduce the legislation to futility and adopt the one that would bring about the effective result.

– Nnaemeka-agu, JSC. Ude v. Nwara (1993)

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SPECIAL PROVISIONS DEROGATE FROM GENERAL PROVISIONS

The law is settled that in the interpretation of statutes, special things derogate from general things (generalibus specialia derogat). Where there is a conflict between two legislations one of which is special on a subject and the other legislation is general in nature, the legislation that is special in nature shall supersede.

– H.M. Ogunwumiju, JCA. ITV v. Edo Internal Revenue (2014) – CA/B/20/2013

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CARDINAL PRINCIPLE OF INTERPRETATION: ORDINARY MEANING

It is a fundamental and cardinal principle of interpretation of statutes that where in its ordinary meaning a provision is clear and unambiguous, effect should be given to it without resorting to external aid. See A.-G., Federation v. A.-G., Abia State & Ors. (No.2) (2002) 6 NWLR (Pt. 764) 542 at 794 paras. B – C per Uwais CJN; A-G., Bendel State v. A.-G., Federation (1983) 1 SCNLR 239.

— M. Peter-Odili, JCA. CAC v. Ayedun (2005) – CA/A/152/2004

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DUTY OF JUDGE TO INTERPRETE THE LAW

I agree that a judge should be firm and pungent in the interpretation of the law but such should be short of a judge being a legislator. This is because it is the duty of the legislature to make the law and it is the assigned duty of the judge to interpret the law as it is; not as it ought to be. That will be flouting the rule of division of labour as set out by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. The provisions of sections 2(1) and 24 of the Act as reproduced above remain the law and shall continue to be so until when same is repealed or amended. For now, I see nothing amiss about the law.

— J.A. Fabiyi, JSC. FBN v. Maiwada (2012) – SC.269/2005

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STATUTES SHOULD BE READ IN WHOLESOMENESS

Furthermore, it is the law that in construing any provision of a statute, a court ought, and is indeed bound, to consider any other parts of the statute which throw light upon the intention of the legislature and which may serve to show that the particular provision ought not to be construed as it would if considered alone without reference to such other parts of the statute.

– Katsina-Alu, JSC. Dantsoho v. Mohammed (2003)

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COURT WILL CONSIDER ALL DOCUMENTS BEFORE IT WHOLLY

It is settled that in the consideration of an agreement where there are series of correspondences between the Parties, it is the duty of the Court to consider all the correspondences in order to decipher what they are saying with regards to the arrangement see Udeagu V. Benue Cement Co. Plc. (2006) 2 NWLR (Pt. 965) 600.

— A.A. Augie, JSC. Berger v Toki Rainbow (2019) – SC.332/2009

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MEANING OF THE WORD “SHALL” – IT IS A COMMAND

At para. 2.19: In the case of Dr. Arthur Agwuncha Nwankwo and Ors V. Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua and Ors. (2010) LPELR-2109(SC), the apex Court held as follows on the interpretation to be accorded the word ‘shall’ in a statute, “The word shall when used in a statutory provision imports that a thing must be done. It is a form of command or mandate. It is not permissive, it is mandatory. The word shall in its ordinary meaning is a word of command which is normally given a compulsory meaning as it is intended to denote obligation. Bamaiyi V. A.G. Federation (2001) 12 NWLR Pt. 722 pg. 468 Ifezue V. Mbadugha (1984) 1 SCNLR pg. 427 Chukwuka V. Ezulike (1986) 5 NWLR pt. 45 pg. 892, Ngige V. Obi (2006) 14 NWLR pt. 991, pg. 1.” See also Chika Madumere and Anor V. Barrister Obinna Okwara and Anor (2013) LPELR-20752(SC).

— (Relied upon in FRN v ASUU (2022) – NICN/ABJ/270/2022)

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