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[DS] IT IS EMBARRASSING FOR A LOWER COURT TO SET ASIDE A DECISION OF A HIGHER COURT

Dictum

It is also not in dispute that following the order of 19 th March, 09 which had been carried out, the respondents appealed to this court against the grant of same and followed up with an application for an injunction restraining the receiver appointed from acting in that office. It is when this application and the appeal were in existence that the respondents orally applied to have the Court of Appeal order of 19/3/09 discharged. Thus when this order was discharged on 1/7/09 it completely rendered ineffective and nugatory the motion and the appeal pending before the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. This situation, with tremendous respect to the learned senior counsel to the respondents’ is extremely embarrassing to our judicial system and the order of seniority of the court of record in Nigeria. In the first place, the trial court is bound by the orders of the Court of Appeal and I therefore wonder where the trial court conjured its jurisdiction to discharge the higher court’s order, not being a court of co-ordinate jurisdiction without any reference to the higher court. This is to dis-organise the constitutionally well arranged seniority of courts Hierarchy of courts and staire decises brushed aside. My Lords, a trial court may not be satisfied with the orders or findings of the Court of Appeal, there is nothing it can do about it, its constitutional and judicial role is either to obey or enforce that order, any act or process challenging the said order would have to be referred to the Court of Appeal any act to the contrary would amount to a breach of the constitutional provisions of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The same applies to the Court of Appeal where the Supreme Court’s order is in question. By granting the order of discharge not made by it but by a higher court the trial court has in effect knocked off the substratum or lis of the appeal against the grant of that order now pending before this court.

— Mutaka-Coomassie, JSC. Shinning Star Nig. Ltd. v. AKS Steel Nigeria Ltd. (2011) – SC. 101/2010

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CASES ARE AUTHORITIES FOR WHAT THEY DECIDE

It is trite law that cases are authorities for what they decide such, that it is not helpful to flog authorities where the facts and circumstances of cases are different. See PDP VS INEC (2018) LPELR-44373 (SC) AND OLLEY VS TUNJI (2015) 10 NWLR (PT. 1362) 374.

— A. Osadebay, J. APC v INEC & Ors. (EPT/KN/GOV/01/2023, 20th Day of September, 2023)

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EACH CASE IS ONLY AN AUTHORITY FOR WHAT IT DECIDES

Let me emphasise here, and it is important to always bear in mind that the decision of a court must always be considered in the light of its own peculiar facts and circumstances. No one case is identical to another though they may be similar. Thus, each case is only an authority for what it decides. It cannot be applied across board. The case of Nwosu (supra) is different in all expects from the instant appeal and cannot be applied without more. See Skye Bank Plc & Anor. Vs. Chief Moses Bolanle Akinpelu (2010) 9 NWLR (Pt.1198), Okafor Vs. Nnaife (1987)4 NWLR (Pt.64)129, Peoples Democratic Party Vs. INEC (2018) LPELR-44373 (SC).

— J.I. Okoro, JSC. PDP v INEC (2023) – SC/CV/501/2023

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LOWER COURT IS BOUND BY THE DECISION OF HIGHER COURTS

Dalhatu Vs Turaki & Ors. (2003) LPELR – 917(SC) @ 41 – 43 C – F, thus: “The doctrine of Judicial precedent otherwise known as stare decisis is not alien to our Jurisprudence. It is a well settled principle of Judicial policy which must be strictly adhered to by all lower courts. While such lower courts may depart from their own decisions reached per incuriam, they cannot refuse to be bound by decisions of higher courts even if those decisions were reached per incuriam. The implication is that a lower court is bound by the decision of a higher court even where that decision was given erroneously.”

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STARE DECISIS ON SIMILAR FACTS

It is settled that Courts, including this Court are bound by the earlier decisions of the apex Court on same or similar facts determined on the basis of same or similar legislations in their subsequent determination of cases in respect of same or similar facts and on the basis of same or similar legislations. See ATOLAGBE & ANOR V. AWUNI & ORS (1997) LPELR – 593 (SC) and DR. UMAR V. ADMIRAL MURTALA NYAKO & ORS (2014) LPELR – 22878 (SC).

– M.D. Muhammad JSC. Odey v. Alaga (2021) – SC.9/2021

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‘STARE DECISIS’ IS TO STAND BY THINGS DECIDED

This appeal illustrates the fundamental importance of the principle of stare decisis in our jurisprudence. “Stare decisis” is defined in Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th Edition, at Page 1443 thus: “to stand by things decided. The doctrine of precedent under which it is necessary for a Court to follow earlier judicial decisions when the same points arise again in litigation. ….. “The rule of adherence to judicial precedent finds its expression in the doctrine of stare decisis. The doctrine is simply that, when a point or principle of law has been once officially decided or settled by the ruling of a competent Court in a case in which it is directly and necessarily involved, it will no longer be considered as open to examination or to a new ruling by the same tribunal, or by those which are bound to follow its adjudication, unless it be for urgent reasons and in exceptional cases. ….” It is settled law that for the doctrine to apply, the facts of the two cases must be the same or similar. The adherence to precedent provides for certainty of the law. See: Adegoke Motors Ltd. v. Adesanya (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt. 109) 250; Mailantarki v. Tongo (2017) 5 – 6 SC (Pt. II) 132; University of Lagos v. Olaniyan (1985) LPELR – 3419 (SC) @ 26 C – F.

— K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun, JSC. State v. Andrew Yanga (SC.712/2018, 15 Jan 2021)

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CASES SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN TO APPLY WHERE THE FACTS ARE DIFFERENT

It is an age-old principle that it is the facts and circumstances of each case that determines judicial authorities that Counsel ought to cite in support of their argument Adegoke Motors v. Adesanya (1989) 3 NWLR (109) 250, S.A.P. Ltd v. Min., Petroleum Resources (2018) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1616) 391. This principle is time-tested to the extent that it has assumed a sacred and inviolable status. In Siry v. Pilot (1625) Popham 166, a 398 years old case, Crewe, CJ, enthused that “in our law every case hath its stand or fall from a particular reason or circumstance”. 342 years ago, Sir F. Pemberton reiterated the principle in L.C.J, Fitzharris’ case (1681) 8 How. Tr. 280 that “every case stands upon its own bottom”, and in Fisher v. Prince (1763) 3 Burr. 1364, Lord Mansfield, who spoke 260 years ago, very aptly held in that case that “the reason and spirit of cases make law; not the letter of particular precedents”. In Nigeria, Oputa, JSC embossed the following evergreen restatement of the law when he stated in Okafor V. Nnaife (1987) 4 NWLR (Pt.64) 129 that: “Justice and fairness demand that the ratio of any case should not be pulled in by the hair of the head and made willy nilly to apply to cases where the surrounding circumstances are different”.

— A.A. Augie, JSC. PDP v INEC (2023) – SC/CV/501/2023

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