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“MAY” MEANS MANDATORY WHERE A DUTY IS IMPOSED

Dictum

UDE V. NWARA & ANOR. (1993) JELR 43303 (SC): “I agree with Chief Umeadi that although section 28(1) of the Law states that the lessor “may enter a suit”, “may” should be construed as mandatory i.e. as meaning “shall” or “must”. I believe that it is now the invariable practice of the courts to interpret “may” as mandatory whenever it is used to impose a duty upon a public functionary the benefit of which enures to a private citizen.”

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MEANING OF SUBJECT TO ANY CUSTOMARY LAW IN WILLS LAW

The introductory phrase “subject to any customary law relating thereto” necessarily makes the power given to a testator under the subsection dependent upon the particular customary law permitting it. In effect, the power of the testator to devise his real and personal estates by Will is limited by the extent, if any, to which its exercise is permissible under the relevant customary law.

– Bello CJN. Idehen v. Idehen (1991) – SC. 271/1989

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EXCEPT STATED, STATUTE DOES NOT MAKE ANY ALTERATION IN THE LAW BEYOND

Crais on Statute Law 7th edition, the statement of the law reads at pages 121 to 122. “To alter any clearly established principle of law a distinct and positive legislative enactment is necessary. “Statutes” said the Court of Common Pleas in Arthur v. Bokenham are not presumed to make any alteration in the common law further or otherwise than the Act does expressly declare”.

– Cited in Abioye v. Yakubu (1991) – SC.169/1987

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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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DEFINITION OF “SECONDMENT”

The term secondment is mostly used in the public service which is not the case in the instant suit. That notwithstanding, the Black’s Law Dictionary at page 1555 defines ‘secondment’ as “a period of time that a worker spends away from his or her usual job”. The court in the case of ALHAJI HAMZA DALHATU v. ATTORNEY GENERAL, KATSINA STATE & ORS (2007) LPELR-8460(CA) also reckoned the meaning of secondment as used in the Public service rules when it stated that: “SECTION 6 – TRANSFERS AND SECONDMENT 02601 – TRANSFER is the permanent release of an officer from one service to another or from one class to another within the same service. SECONDEMENT means the temporary release of an officer to the service of another Government or Body for a specified period.” Per ARIWOOLA, J.C.A. (P.34, paras. A-B).

— Z.M. Bashir, J. Gbaraka v Zenith Securities & Anor. (2020) – NICN/PHC/45/2018

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COURT CANNOT READ INTO THE CONSTITUTION WHAT IS NOT THERE

Courts of law, in interpreting the Constitution or a statute have no jurisdiction to read into the Constitution or statute what the legislators did not provide for, and a fortiori read out of the Constitution or statute what is provided for by the legislators. In either way, the courts are abandoning their constitutional functions and straying into those of the Legislature by interfering or interloping with them. As that will make nonsense of the separation of powers provided for in sections 4 and 6 of the Constitution, courts of law will not do such a thing, whatever is the pressure by Counsel.

— Niki Tobi, JSC. Buhari v. INEC (2008) – SC 51/2008

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