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EACH CASE IS ONLY AN AUTHORITY FOR WHAT IT DECIDES

Dictum

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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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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LACK OF A PRECEDENT ON A POINT CANNOT DENY JUSTICE

What is the argument on the other side? Only this: that no case has been found in which it has been done before. That argument does not appeal to me in the least. If we never do anything which has not been done before, we shall never get anywhere. The law will stand still whilst the rest of the world goes on: and that will be bad for both. – Packer v Packer [1954] P 15 at 22

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FOREIGN AUTHORITIES WILL NOT APPLY WHERE CONTRARY TO OUR JUDGMENTS

I should not be misunderstood as saying that foreign decisions, including Indian authorities cannot be used by this court. No, that is not the point I am making. Foreign decisions will continue to be useful in the expansion of the frontiers of our jurisprudence but this court cannot invoke such decisions where it thinks they are contrary to the judgments of the court which are correctly decided. Of course, this court will not hesitate to use any foreign decision if its correct, even though contrary to our decision; if the court comes to the conclusion that its decision is wrong. In such a case, this court will, in the light of the foreign decision, overrule itself and choose to go by the foreign decision which is correctly given. Subject to the above, the state of the law that foreign decisions are of persuasive authority will remain and for all times and forever.

– Tobi JSC. Araka v. Egbue (2003) – SC.167/1999

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THE CASE OF UCHE NWOSU DOES NOT APPLY TO THIS

So, for the decision of this Court in Uche Nwosu’s case to apply mutatis mutandis, the fourth Respondent, who the Appellant contends has offended the law, would need to have contested two Primary Elections, emerged winners of both, and had his name forwarded by both Parties as their respective candidates for the 2023 General Election. Did he purchase a second nomination form to warrant stepping into the Appellant’s shoes in Uche Nwosu V. APP (supra), and thus, invite the same pronouncement thereat on himself? No; the fourth Respondent was not required to buy any nomination form. He was the second Respondent [APC]’s candidate at the election into the Office of Senator representing the Borno Central Senatorial District. But before the election could hold, he was nominated as the third Respondent’s associate, who is to occupy the office of Vice-President. The fourth Respondent did not buy a nomination form for the said office, and most importantly, did not contest any primary election in order to emerge as APC’s Vice-Presidential candidate. Given these acute dissimilarities, can the facts of the two cases be the same? Can such a scenario come within the parameters of Section 35 of the said Act? I think not; this cannot be the intention of the lawmaker as that will lead to absurdity. It is the law that statutes should be given their natural meaning, except to do so will lead to absurdity Toriola V. Williams (1982) 7 SC 27/46, Nonye V. Anyichie (2005) 2 NWLR (Pt. 910) 623, (2005) 1 SCNJ 306 at 316.

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

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

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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