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GOVERNOR CANNOT REMOVE JUDICIAL OFFICER WITHOUT RECOURSE TO NJC

Dictum

In other words, on the interpretation and application of the provisions of Section 153(1)(i); 271(1); 292(1)(a)(ii) and paragraph 21 of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, the Governor of Kwara State and the House of Assembly of Kwara State cannot remove the Chief Judge of Kwara State from office without recourse to and input or participation of the National Judicial Council. That is to say for the purpose of emphasis, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, does not give the Governor of Kwara State acting in conjunction with the House of Assembly of Kwara State absolute power to remove the Chief Judge of the State from his/her office or appointment before the age of retirement without the recommendation of the National Judicial Council.

– Mahmud, JSC. Elelu-Habeeb v. A.G Federation (2012)

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IF GOVERNOR IS ALLOWED TO APPOINT & REMOVE JUDICIAL OFFICERS WITHOUT NJC

If the Governor alone is allowed to, in exercise of his Executive power, appoint directly, and discipline judicial officers of his State, this may, no doubt, lead to avoidable corruption and prevent judicial officers from carrying out their functions freely and without any intimidation by the Executive. Judicial Officers may become stooges of the Governor of the State for fear of been removed from office unceremoniously.

– PETER-ODILI, JSC. Elelu-Habeeb v. A.G Federation (2012)

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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of sections 2(1) and 24 of the Act as reproduced above remain the law and shall continue to be so until when same is repealed or amended.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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WHEN A JUDGE SITS BOTH AS A JUDGE AND JURY

It is quite another thing when a Judge sits both as trial – Judge and jury. In this connection we draw attention, with approval, to the observations of the West African Court of Appeal in R. v. Adebanjo & ors. (1935) 2 WACA 315: “…..We think it (is) going altogether too far to demand that a Judge, sitting as both judge and jury, should commence his judgment by directing himself as to the burden of proof, the doctrine of reasonable doubt, and the elements which constitute the offences with which the accused is, or are, charged. To our minds it must be presumed that a learned Judge, sitting as both Judge jury, has directed himself aright in matters of law unless the contrary appears from the judgment……..” (Underlining supplied by this court) – See (1935) 2 WACA at P. 321 per Atkin, J.

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DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS OF A JUDGE IS NOT A STATE GOVERNMENT AFFAIR

In the present case therefore which principally involves the procedure for initiating and conducting disciplinary proceedings against a Chief Judge of a State where the National Judicial Council which had been given a role in the appointment and exercise of disciplinary control over judicial officers of the Appellant’s rank under the Constitution, it is not correct as argued by the Respondents that the entire matter in the case was a State Government affair.

– Mahmud, JSC. Elelu-Habeeb v. A.G Federation (2012)

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COORDINATE JUDGES CANNOT OVERTURN ONE ANOTHER

In NWANI vs. EDE (1996) 8 NWLR (pt. 466) 332, Tobi, JCA (as he then was) stated: “It is a general principle of law that a Judge lacks the jurisdiction to overturn the decision of another Judge, even if he feels strongly that the decision is wrong. Such a judicial conduct is tantamount to presiding over the decision of the brother Judge on appeal. The Constitution does not allow such a procedure…”

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A JUDGE IS TO EXAMINE CASES BEFORE HIM WITH DUE CARE, AND MAY RAISE ANY DEFECT IN A SUIT

This issue reminds of the dictum of this Court in Sodipo v Lemminkainem OY and Anor[1986] 1 NWLR (pt. 15) 220, According to the Court: “A Judge exists to determine disputes and examine with due care and microscopic senses all matters before him in his pursuit of justice.” This dictum, to my mind, is a complete answer to the criticism by the appellants to the way and manner the learned trial Judge resolved the preliminary objection. In the first place, the question of no “live issue” found in the suit, was not raised by any of the parties in arguing the preliminary objection. A trial Judge, however, is within his rights to properly inform himself of a defect in a suit, either with or without external intervention, because it touches directly on the competence of the suit and hence the jurisdiction to entertain it as such. Thus, the established principle that the issue of jurisdiction can be raised at any stage of the proceedings, at the instance of either the parties or by the Court suo motu, Amale v. Sokoto Local Govt and Ors. [2012] 1 SC (pt. IV) 45; Odiase v. Agho [1972] 1 All NLR (pt.1) 170; Petrojessica Entreprises Ltd v. Leventis Technical Co. Ltd, [1992] 2 NWLR (pt. 244) 675. Where however, the issue of jurisdiction is raised, it should be examined in all ramifications. It should not be compartmentalized and subjected to piecemeal examination and treatment, Oloba v Akereja [1988] 3 NWLR (pt. 84) 508. The very many faces of jurisdiction should come under the searchlight and be pronounced upon, notwithstanding that it might not have been brought to the attention of the Court.

— C.C. Nweze, JSC. Uzoho v NCP (SC.141/2007, Friday, May 13, 2022)

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