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JUDICIAL OFFICER WHO DID NOT HEAR A CASE CANNOT GIVE A JUDGEMENT OR JOIN IN GIVING OPINION ON IT

Dictum

The genesis of what brought about the improper constitution of the tribunal when it sat and delivered a ruling on 9 September 2015, has been clearly set out in the lead reasoning. I only re-iterate the position of the law that a judicial officer of whatever jurisdiction, who did not participate in court in taking proceedings in respect of the suit/case in question, has no legal right or capacity to express an opinion in determining dispute between parties in that suit/case where he did not participate at the hearing level of the suit/case. If he does so, the decision delivered in which such a judicial officer participated is a nullity as the court/tribunal was not properly constituted. See Madukolu v. Nkemdilim (1962) 2 SCNLR 341; Adeigbe v. Kushimo (1965) All NLR 260 at 263, Sokoto State Govt. v. Kamdex (Nig.) Ltd (2007) 7 NWLR (Pt. 1034) 492 at 497; Ubwa v. Tiv Area Traditional Council (2004) 11 NWLR (Pt. 884) at 4361. If a decision is a nullity, it cannot confer jurisdiction on same court/ tribunal or any other court or tribunal. One cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand. It will collapse. See Macfoy v. United African Company Ltd (1961) 3 WLR 1405 at 1409, (1962) 5 SCNLR 152.

— I.T. Muhammad, JSC. Nyesom v. Peterside (SC.1002/2015 (REASONS), 12 Feb 2016)

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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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WHAT IS A FINAL JUDGEMENT?

In Obasi Brothers Merchant Co. Ltd. vs. Merchant Bank of Africa Securities Ltd. (2005) 2 SCNJ 272, Pat-Acholonu, JSC held at page 278 that: “A final judgment is one which decides the rights of parties. In other words it is a decision on the merits of the case where the matter is assiduously canvassed and the rendition of a judgment is based on what is canvassed and agitated before the Courts by the legal combatants.”

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WHAT IS AN EXECUTORY JUDGMENT

An executory judgment or order is one that states the respective rights of the parties and goes the extra mile to order the defendant to act in a particular way or refrain from interfering with the plaintiffs’ rights, e.g. to pay damages or as in this case to stop parading himself as the Eesa of Iragbiji. – Rhodes-Vivour, JSC. Olabomi v. Oyewinle (2013) – SC.345/2012

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JUDGEMENT MUST BE CONFINED TO PARTIES ISSUES

This is because it is a fundamental principle of the determination of disputes between parties that judgment must be confined to the issues raised by the parties and it is not competent for the court to make a case for either or both of the parties and then proceed to give judgment on the case so formulated contrary to the case of the parties.

– Iguh, JSC. Oshatoba v. Olujitan (2000)

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COURT OF APPEAL IS BOUND BY HER PREVIOUS JUDGEMENT

This is a hypothetical and an academic question but my answer to the question is in the affirmative, i.e., that the Court of Appeal is bound by its previous judgments. It is also bound by the judgments of the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeal has not contended the contrary. Since the Court of Appeal sits in divisions, now there exists the danger of decisions delivered in one division conflicting with decisions in another division.

— Obaseki, JSC. Foreign Finance Corp. v Lagos State Devt. & Pty. Corp. & Ors. (1991) – SC. 9/1988

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IF THE JUDGEMENT OF A COURT IS CORRECT, IT WILL NOT BE REVERSED BECAUSE A WRONG LAW WAS RELIED UPON

Although the court below relied on the inapplicable 1990 Act or Law in arriving at its said decision, it is now firmly settled that what an appeal has to declare, is whether the decision of the court below, was/is right. If the judgment of a court is correct, it is not liable to reversal merely because it was anchored on a wrong reason or law. In other words, a mistake or error in a judgment, is immaterial provided it has not occasioned a miscarriage of justice. It is not every mistake or error in a judgment, that necessarily, determines an appeal in favour of an appellant. See the cases of Ayeni & 3 Ors. v. Sowemimo (1982) NSCC 104; (1982) 5 S.C. (Reprint) 29; Onajobi v. Olanipekun (1985) 4 S.C. (pt.2) 156 at 163 and Odukwe v. Mrs. Ogunbiyi (1998) 8 NWLR (Pt….) 339 at 351; (1998) 6 SCNJ. 102 at 113 just to mention a few.

— Ogbuagu, JSC. Grosvenor v Halaloui (2009) – SC.373/2002

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