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DICTA SHOULD NOT BE READ OUT OF CONTEXT

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Dicta should not be taken and read out of context.

– Obaseki, JSC. Adegoke v. Adesanya (1989)

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HEADINGS OF A STATUTE SHOULD BE LOOKED AT TO CLARIFY AMBIGUITY

My Lords, I am persuaded that we must look at the heading of both sections of the statute to clarify any ambiguity. See OGBONNA v. A. G. IMO STATE (1992) 1 NWLR Pt. 220 Pg. 647, OYO STATE BOARD OF INTERNAL REVENUE v. UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN (2013) LPELR 2215.

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

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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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MARGINAL NOTE IS HELPFUL IN CONSTRUCTION OF A SECTION

Although the marginal note in a section is not part of the section, it is helpful even if occasionally misleading to construction, as a sign post to what the section sets out to provide.

– Karibi-whyte JSC. Idehen v. Idehen (1991) – SC. 271/1989

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COURT DEAL WITH LAW AS IT IS

The duty of the court is not to deal with the law as it ought to be but as it is. – Onnoghen, J.S.C. GEC v. DUKE (2007)

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COURT CANNOT READ INTO THE CONSTITUTION WHAT IS NOT THERE

Courts of law, in interpreting the Constitution or a statute have no jurisdiction to read into the Constitution or statute what the legislators did not provide for, and a fortiori read out of the Constitution or statute what is provided for by the legislators. In either way, the courts are abandoning their constitutional functions and straying into those of the Legislature by interfering or interloping with them. As that will make nonsense of the separation of powers provided for in sections 4 and 6 of the Constitution, courts of law will not do such a thing, whatever is the pressure by Counsel.

— Niki Tobi, JSC. Buhari v. INEC (2008) – SC 51/2008

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PRINCIPLES GUIDING THE INTERPRETATION OF THE NIGERIAN CONSTITUTION

In FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA v MUHAMMADU MAIGARI DINGYADI (2018) LPELR-4606 (CA), in the following way at page 33: “One main guiding post is that the principles upon which the Constitution was established rather than the direct operation or literal meaning of the words used measure the purpose and scope of its provisions: See Global Excellence Communications Ltd v. Donald Duke (2007) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1059) 22 @ 41-41 (SC); Attorney General of Bendel State v. Attorney General of the Federation (1982) 3 NCLR 1; Saraki v. F.R.N. (2016) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1500) 531; Skye Bank Plc v. Iwu (2017) 16 NWLR (Pt. 1590) 124. There is always a need for the fulfilment of the object and true intent of the Constitution. Therefore, the Constitution must always be construed in such a way that it protects what it sets out to protect and guide what it is meant to guide Adeleke v. Oyo State House of Assembly (2006) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1006) 608. In interpreting the Constitution of a nation, it is the duty of the Court to ensure the words of the Constitution preserve the intendment of the Constitution Okogie v. A.G. Lagos State (1989) 2 NCLR 337, Abaribe v. Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly (2002) 14 NWLR (Pt. 788) 466, Marwa v. Nyako (2012) LPELR-7837 (SC). Every Constitution has a life and moving spirit within it and it is this spirit that forms the raison de’ entre of the Constitution without which the Constitution will be a dead piece of document. The life and moving spirit of the Constitution of this country is captured in the Preamble. It has been held that when a Constitutional provision is interpreted, the cardinal rule is to look to the Preamble to the Constitution as guiding star, and the directive principles of State Policy as the book of interpretation’, and that while the Preamble embodies the hopes and aspirations of the people, the Directive Principles set out the proximate grounds in the governance of the country Thakur v. Union of India (2008) 6 SCC 1. In other words, in interpreting the wordings of section 212(1)(a) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the Court should be guided by principles upon which the Constitution was established rather than by the direct operation or literal meaning of the words used in the provision, and where the literal meaning of the words used are not in consonance with the guiding principles, literal interpretation must be jettisoned for another approach that accords with the guiding principles of the Constitution Abaribe v. Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly (supra) (2002) 14 NWLR (Pt. 788) 466; Global Excellence Communications Ltd v. Donald Duke (2007) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1059) 22. The interpretation that would serve the interest of the Constitution and best carries out its objects and purpose must always be preferred – Kalu v. State (1988) 13 NWLR 531.”

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