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COURTS OF LAW EXERCISE DISCRETION ACCORDING TO RULES OF LAW

Dictum

Judges and Courts exercise their discretion in accordance with rules of law and justice 42 and not according to private opinion. An exercise of discretion is a liberty or privilege to decide and act in accordance with what is fair and equitable under the peculiar circumstances of the particular case, guided by the spirit and principles of law.

— H.M. Ogunwumiju, JSC. UBA v Triedent Consulting Ltd. (SC.CV/405/2013, July 07, 2023)

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DISCRETIONARY POWERS JUDICIALLY EXERCISED

Discretionary powers judicially and judiciously exercised cannot be interfered with. One must let the decision of the lower court be. – M.D. Muhammad, J.C.A. Shona-Jason v Omega Air (2005) – CA/L/418/2000

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RENEWAL OF OIL MINING LEASE II (OML II) IS DISCRETIONARY

The renewal of Oil Mining Lease II (OML II) falls squarely within the powers and discretion of the Honourable Minister of Petroleum Resources and the renewal of such lease may be with new terms and conditions. The Appellants have offered to renew the Oil Mining Lease for the Respondent on new terms and conditions. The Respondent refused and failed to accept the offer. The Respondent cannot dictate to the Appellants, the terms and conditions under which the renewal of the lease could be crystallized. The 1st Appellant acted within his powers and in accordance with the Petroleum Act, 2004 earlier referred to. The lower Court greatly erred in law in deciding the questions raised for determination and the reliefs sought against the Appellants.

– OLABISI IGE, JCA. Petroleum Resources v. SPDC (2021)

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APPELLATE COURT INTERFERENCE WITH TRIAL COURTS DISCRETION

It needs to be emphasised here that an appellate Court will usually not interfere with an exercise of discretion in its quest to obtain substantial justice except where it is satisfied that the discretion was exercised arbitrarily or illegally or without due regard to all necessary consideration having regard to the circumstances of the particular case. – Nweze JSC. Abdullahi v. Adetutu (2019)

Even then, it is well – established that an appellate Court will not, in principle, interfere with the exercise of discretion by the trial Court unless that discretion is shown to have been exercised upon wrong principles or that the exercise was tainted with some illegality or substantial irregularity. – Nweze JSC. Abdullahi v. Adetutu (2019)

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COURTS WILL NOT BE SILENT EVEN WHERE THERE IS DISCRETION ON EXECUTIVE

The decision of the House of Lords in Attorney-General v. De Keyser’s Royal Hotel Limited (1920) A.C. 508 – dealing with the issue of payment of compensation by the Crown to a subject in respect of property requisitioned for the prosecution of the war – established the principle that in the protection of the property of the subject, the Crown was liable to pay compensation to the subject for the acquisition of the property, the exigencies of the war notwithstanding. Even amidst the clash of arms, they said, the courts would not be silent.

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EXERCISE OF JUDICIAL DISCRETION IS TO ATTAIN JUSTICE

I would like to add that in the exercise of judicial discretion the primary objective of the court must be to attain substantial justice. Acting judicially imports consideration of the interest of both parties and weighing them in order to arrive at a just and fair decision. See United Spinners Ltd. v. Chartered Bank Ltd. (2001) 14 NWLR (Pt. 732) 195 at 216.

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

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TRIAL JUDGE DISCRETION FOR LOCUS IN QUO; LOCUS IN QUO

It is clearly at the discretion of the trial Judge to determine whether in the light of the evidence before him, there is need to resolve, by a visit to the locus in quo, the conflict of evidence or clear a doubt as to the accuracy of a piece of evidence when there is such conflict of evidence.

– Nweze JSC. Abdullahi v. Adetutu (2019)

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