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MARGINAL NOTES IN STATUTES

Dictum

Marginal notes, otherwise known as side notes or section heads are short notations appearing above or beside each section of a statute or regulation. While marginal notes are not part of a statute, they provide an interpretative aid to Courts and are useful in considering the purpose of a section and the mischief at which it is aimed. See per Eso, JSC in OLOYO V. ALEGBE (1983) 2 S.C.N.L.R. 35 AT 57; Per Idigbe, JSC in UWAIFO V. AG BENDEL STATE (1982) 7 SC 124 AT 187 188, OSIEC & ANOR V. AC & ORS (2010) LPELR-2818 (SC), INAKOJU & ORS V. ADELEKE & ORS (2007) LPELR 1510 (SC), YABUGBE V. C.O.P (1992) LPELR 3505 (SC).

— A. JAURO, JSC. UBA v Triedent Consulting Ltd. (SC.CV/405/2013, July 07, 2023)

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COMMON SENSE SHOULD BE APPLIED IN CONSTRUING STATUTES

In the case of Barnes v. Jarvis. (1953) 1 W.L.R. 649. Lord Goddard CJ. stated that a certain amount of common sense must be applied in construing statutes and the object of the statute has to be considered.

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WHERE INTERPRETATION IS CAPABLE OF TWO MEANINGS, ADOPT A NON-DEFEATIST APPROACH

It is settled that where in the interpretation of a word appearing in a particular piece of legislation, such word is capable of two meanings, the court has a duty to adopt an interpretation which would not defeat the intention of the law makers. See Mandara v. Attorney-General, Federation (1984) NSCC 221; Yabugbe v. C.O.P. (1992) 4 SCNJ 116; Lawal v. G. B. Ollivant (1972) 3 SC 124.

— Galadima, JSC. Wike Nyesom v. Peterside, APC, INEC, PDP (SC. 718/2015, 27 Oct 2015)

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INTENTION CAN BE ASCERTAINABLE FROM THE DOCUMENT

The learned trial Judge considered the somewhat exclusive character of the occupation of the petrol station by the respondent and gave weight to some expressions used in the agreement as words indicating that a tenancy as distinct from a licence is the subject matter of the agreement. I have not the slightest doubt he was right in considering these expressions: he was right in considering the character of the occupation; but it appears to me it was his duty to do more than this. It was also his duty to consider the conduct of the parties as well as their intention, particularly when such intention is ascertainable from the document or agreement as a whole.

– Ademola, CJF. Mobil v. Johnson (1961)

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STRICT PRINCIPLES ARE INAPPLICABLE TO NATIVE COURT PROCEEDINGS

The procedure of a Native Court should not be subjected to strict principles of law as done, in the regular courts of record. Greater latitude and broader interpretation should be accorded to decisions of native courts.

– Fabiyi JSC. Ogundele v. Agiri (2009)

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WHERE WORDS ARE UNAMBIGUOUS

According to the canons of interpretation of statutes, it is a cardinal principle that, where the ordinary and plain meaning of words used are clear and unambiguous, effect must be given to those words in their natural and ordinary meaning or literal sense without resorting to any intrinsic aid.

– Tijjani Abubakar, JSC. Nwobike v. FRN (2021)

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SEVERAL PARTS OF A WRITTEN INSTRUMENT MUST BE INTERPRETED TOGETHER TO GET THE INTENTION

I agree with Mr. Sofola, S.A.N., in his submission that the court below was in error to have relied on clauses 3 and 6 of the lease agreement only and limited itself in the construction of the lease agreement to the construction of these clauses alone. The approach adopted by the court below is in violation of one of the fundamental and hallowed principles in the construction of document and written instruments, that the several parts, where there are more than one, must be interpreted together to avoid conflicts in the natural meaning in the various parts of the written document or instrument. This rule of construction was approved by this court in Ojokolobo & Ors. v.Alamu & Anor. (1987) 3 NWLR (Pt. 61)377,(1987)7 SCNJ 98.

— Karibi-Whyte, JSC. Unilife v. Adeshigbin (2001) 4 NWLR (Pt.704) 609

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