Judiciary-Poetry-Logo
JPoetry

MAGISTRATE COURT IS TO DELIVER JUDGEMENT WITHIN TIMEFRAME SET BY THE CONSTITUTION

Dictum

In any case, section 294(1) of the Constitution is intended to ensure that a court delivers its judgment before the lapse of human memory. Those who preside over the Magistrates’ Court have no claim to better and longer memory than the Judges of Superior Courts, nor can there be a double standard of justice delivery, one in the lower and the other in the High Courts.

— Ngwuta JSC. The State v. Monsurat Lawal (SC. 80/2004, 15 Feb 2013)

Was this dictum helpful?

SHARE ON

MEANING OF OPINION IN A CASE/JUDGEMENT

I must not, I believe, confuse it with the meaning attached to the word in England where it refers to the speech or a whole judgment of a Law Lord delivered in the Rouse of Lords, or in the United States where it refers to the entire judgment of a superior court. It is in the context of the use of the word with reference to the United States and House of Lords’ decision that Black’s Law Dictionary (5th Edn.) at p.985 defined “opinion” as- The statement by a Judge or Court of the decision reached in regard to a cause tried or argued before them expounding the law as applied to the case and detailing the reasons upon which the judgment is based. This equates an “opinion” to the entire decision, which would include other parts of a judgment. But clearly the appellants are not saying that the Court of Appeal on the second hearing should have simply rubber-stamped and handed down again the previous decision of that court differently constituted. A more relevant definition of the word “opinion” in the sense it is used in this appeal is to be found in Words and Phrases Permanent Edition Vol. 29A at pp. 495-496 where “opinion” was defined thus: “An ‘opinion’ of the court is a statement by the court of its reasons for its findings, conclusions, or judgment. I adopt this, and only add that it also includes not only the reasons but also such findings or conclusions in such a judgment. So, an “opinion” is the reasoning and conclusion of a Judge on the issue or issues in contention before him. It is in this context that I shall consider the real points raised by this appeal.

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

Was this dictum helpful?

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.”

Was this dictum helpful?

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

Was this dictum helpful?

A MAGISTRATE COURT IS ESTABLISHED UNDER THE CONSTITUTION

A distinction has to be drawn between a court established directly by the Constitution and a court established under the Constitution. The Magistrates’ Courts belong to the latter category. Magistrates’ Courts are established pursuant to powers donated to the states by the Constitution. See section 4(6) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as altered which provides: S. 4(6): “The legislative powers of a State of the Federation shall be vested in the House of Assembly of the State.” The Magistrates’ Court Law of Oyo State which created or established the Magistrates’ Court as conceded by learned counsel for the respondent is a law made pursuant to section 4(6) of the Constitution. The Magistrates’ Court is established under the Constitution and is therefore subject to section 294(1) of the Constitution.

— Ngwuta JSC. The State v. Monsurat Lawal (SC. 80/2004, 15 Feb 2013)

Was this dictum helpful?

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.”

Was this dictum helpful?

BECAUSE A JUDGEMENT IS A NULLITY DOES NOT MEAN IT IS NON-EXISTENT

I must observe that in trying to answer these important questions, learned counsel for the respondents tried to take umbrage under the statement of Lord Denning in Macfoy v. United African Co. Ltd. (1961) 3 W.L.R. 1405 at p.1409, P.C. where he said: Any purported exercise of any function being without any legal or Constitutional authority was null and void and of no effect. . .” If an act is void, then it is in law a nullity. It is not only bad but incurably bad. There is no need for an order of the court to set it aside. It is automatically null and void without much ado, though it is sometimes convenient to have the court declare it to be so. And every proceeding, which is founded on it, is also bad and incurably bad. You cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stay there. It will collapse. With respects to the learned counsel for the respondents, it appears to me that the very eminent Lord Justice’s aim in this much misquoted and misapplied dictum was again talking of the effect in law of a judgment being declared void. It is “automatically null and void without more ado” and every proceeding which is founded on it is also bad and incurably bad.” His Lordship did not say that it ceases to exist as a fact. I agree with Chief Williams that there is a world of difference between saying that a judgment has no legal effect or consequences and saying that it is non-existent; between giving a judgment which is a nullity because, say, it was given without jurisdiction and saying that no judgment was given at all. The learned Justice of Appeal was, therefore, in error when he held that because the previous judgment of the Court of Appeal had been nullified by this court-for having been delivered more than three months of the conclusion of the final addresses, it follows that the judgment was non-existent. In my view, although, by its being declared a nullity, the judgment had no more any legal effect, it continued to exist de facto.

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

Was this dictum helpful?

No more related dictum to show.