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JUDGEMENTS OF COURT MUST BE OBEYED

Dictum

Unfortunately, sentiments command no place in judicial adjudication. Orders and judgments of lower courts are meant to be obeyed, and must be obeyed. – Eko JSC. Chemiron v. Stabilini (2018)

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PARTY NOT BOUND BY JUDGMENT ON VENDOR AFTER LAND PURCHASE

In Mercantile Investment & General Trust Co. v. River Plate Trust, Loan & Agency Co. (1894)1 Ch 578 at 595 said the learned Judge: “Moreover, if the claim of the plaintiff company could be regarded as one affecting land, notwithstanding that no registration of that claim had been made in Mexico, which alone could validly bind the land there, then the English Company would be entitled to say that they were purchasers of the land prior to that action, notwithstanding that their title may also not have been perfected by registration. A prior purchaser of land cannot be estopped as being privy in estate by a judgment obtained in an action against the vendor commenced after the purchase.”

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DECLARATORY JUDGEMENT IS DISCRETIONARY

In the case of Egbunike v. Muonweokwu (1962) 1 All NLR 46 Taylor, FJ. held as follows on p. 51. “A declaratory judgment is discretionary. It is a form of judgment which should be granted only in circumstances in which the Court is of opinion that the party seeking it is, when all the facts are taken into account, fully entitled to the exercise of the Court’s discretion in his favour.”

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ONLY WHEN ERROR IN JUDGEMENT OF COURT BELOW IS SUBSTANTIAL THAT APPEAL WILL BE ALLOWED

At all events, it is not every mistake or error in a judgment that will result in the appeal being allowed. It is only when the error is substantial in that it has occasioned a miscarriage of Justice that the appellate court is bound to interfere. See Onajobi v. Olanipekun (1985) 4 S.C. (Pt.2) 156 at 163; Oje v. Babalola (1991) 4 NWLR (Pt.185) 267 at 282; Ukejianya v. Uchendu (1950) 13WACA 45 at 46; Azuetonma Ike v. Ugboaja (1993) 6 NWLR (Pt.30 1)539 at 556; Ahiodun Famuroti v. Madam Agbeke (1991) 5 NWLR (Pt.189) 1; (1991) 6 S.CN.J. 54 at 64 etc. No miscarriage 1 of justice has been occasioned by the observation of the court below that the return of the title deeds to the 1st appellant during the pendency of the appeal had put an end to the dispute.

— Iguh, JSC. Onamade v ACB (1997) – SC.199/1990

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NULL JUDGEMENTS BECOME MERE DOCUMENTS; COURT CANNOT TAKE JUDICIAL NOTICE OF ALL DOCUMENTS IN HIS REGISTRY

As stated earlier, such judgments exist not as judgments but as documents. They become documents as any other document in the Registry of the court. It would be most tedious to argue that the court could take judicial notice of every document in its registry. Section 73 of the Evidence Act deals with matters, which the court can take judicial notice of. As stated earlier, a judgment declared null exists in fact, it exists as a document in the Registry. In my view, if any party to proceedings desires to make use of such document, it has to be produced before the court. Section 73(3) of the Evidence Act provides that:-“If the Court is called upon by any person to take judicial notice of any facts, it may refuse to do so unless and until such person produces any such book or document as it may consider necessary to enable it to do so.”

— Nnamani JSC. Gbaniyi Osafile v. Paul Odi (SC 149/1987, 4th day of May 1990)

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JUSTICE MUST DELIVER OPINION IN WRITING; APPLIES TO ANY PANEL WITH MORE THAN ONE PANEL

It is evident from this constitutional provision that the intention of the framers of the Constitution is that where a panel of justices hears a cause or matter, each of them must express and deliver his opinion in writing. Such written opinion may however be delivered by any other justice of the court on behalf of a justice who participated in the hearing but is unavoidably absent. The opinion delivered must be the opinion of the justices who participated in the hearing. Even though the provisions of section 294 (1) and (2) refers specifically to; Justices of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, it is my view that the principle is applicable to any court or tribunal that sits in a panel of two or more members.

— Kekere-Ekun, JSC. Nyesom v. Peterside (SC.1002/2015 (REASONS), 12 Feb 2016)

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EXECUTORY JUDGEMENT VS DECLARATORY JUDGEMENT

Executory judgment declares the respective rights of the parties and then proceeds to order the defendant to act in a particular way. e.g. to pay damages or refrain from interfering with the plaintiffs’ rights, such order being enforceable by execution if disobeyed. Declaratory judgments, on the other hand, merely proclaim the existence of a legal relationship and do not contain any order which may be enforced against the defendant. Second: A declaratory judgment may be the ground of subsequent proceedings in which the right, having been violated, receives enforcement but in the meantime there is no enforcement or any claim to it … A declaratory judgment is complete in itself since the relief is the declaration. See Vol. 1 Halbury Laws, 4th Ed., para. 185 187; Akunnia v. Attorney General of Anambra State (1977) 5 S.C. (161 at 177).

— Agbaje JSC. Okoya & Ors. V. S. Santilli & Ors. ( SC.206/1989, 23 MAR 1990)

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