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)

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By importing equitable consideration into his judgment, the learned trial Judge by what I term judicial legislation threw overboard and or repealed Exhibit –D” which is the applicable customary law to the chieftaincy. The court does not have that power. The office of the judge is jus dicere, not jus dare. See Okumagba v. Egbe (1965) All NLR 62 at 67.

— Ogwuegbu, JSC. Ogundare v Ogunlowo (1997) – SC.25/1994

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Whether the record and contents of a nullified judgment ought formally be produced in court or extract thereof be placed before the court before the opinions expressed therein could be countenanced; or whether the Court of Appeal could have taken notice of their existence and contents by the mere fact that the nullified judgment was probably in the archives of the court. In Attorney-General v. Silem L.R. 10 H.L. Cas. 704, it was held that S.26 of the Queens Remembrance Act, 1859, which empowered the Barons of Exchequer to frame rules for making “the process, practice and mode of pleading” on the revenue side of the court uniform with that of the plea side, did not give the Judges the power of entertaining appeals on revenue cases, as they assumed. It is always necessary to exercise powers conferred by an enabling statute within the four comers of the statute: see Australian cases of Tavcar v. Tavcar (1950) A.L.R. 260; White v. White (1947) A.L.R. 342. It therefore appears to me that the power, conferred by S.73(1) of the Evidence Act, for a court to take judicial notice of its course of proceedings and rules of practice cannot rightly be invoked to take judicial notice of the contents of a nullified judgment, which the members had not earlier had an opportunity of seeing. For, true, it existed as a fact, being devoid of any legal consequences, it was then like any other opinion, say, in a textbook. I do not think that anybody can suggest that such a textbook opinion should be judicially noticed.

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

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Learned counsel for the Appellant has urged this Court to adopt the dissenting view of Agbaje JSC as it is more in accord with the law that creates trust. In alternative learned counsel invited this Court to look further into this matter and if necessary depart from the relevant holding, especially the dictum of Olatawura JSC. I wish to state clearly that the views expressed by my lord Agbaje JSC was raised in a dissenting judgment. A dissenting judgment, however powerful, learned and articulate is not the judgment of the Court and therefore not binding. The judgment of the Court is the majority judgment which is binding. See Orugbo v Una (2002) 16 NWLR (Pt. 792) 175 at 208 Paragraphs B-C. The law under which the case of Ogunola & Ors v Eiyekole (supra) was decided, that is the Land Use Act 1978, has not been repealed or altered. It is still the extant law that regulates land administration in this country. The call therefore on this Court to depart from the said decision is without merit.

— P.A. Galumje, JSC. Huebner v Aeronautical Ind. Eng. (2017) – SC.198/2006

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In Dike & Ors v. Nzeka II & Ors (1986) LPELR – 945 (SC), the Supreme Court held thusly – “It is therefore necessary to have a clear idea of the distinction between a judgment tin rem and a judgment in personam. A judgment is said to be in rem when it is an adjudication pronounced upon the Status of some particular thing or subject matter by a tribunal having the jurisdiction and the competence to pronounce on that Status. Such a judgment is usually and invariably founded on proceedings instituted against or on something or subject-matter whose status or condition is to be determined. It is thus a solemn declaration on the status of some persons or thing. It is therefore binding on all persons in so far as their interests in the status of the property or person are concerned. That is why a judgment in rem is a judgment contra mundum binding on the whole world – parties as well as nonparties. A judgment in personam, on the other hand, is on an entirely different footing. It is a judgment against a particular person as distinguished from a judgment declaring the status of a particular person or thing. A judgment in personam will be more accurately called a judgment inter partes. A judgment in personam usually creates a personal obligation as it determines the rights of parties inter se to, or in the subject-matter in dispute whether it be land or other corporeal property or liquidated or unliquidated demand, but does not affect the status of either the persons to the dispute or the thing in dispute.”

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It need be examined the extent of duty and responsibility of the 1st and 2nd respondents as sureties to the 3rd respondent who was standing trial before the Court of trial and that obligation is to ensure that the 3rd respondent attended trial from the inception of trial to judgment delivery and that is what the bail bond entails. Therefore by the effect of the combined provisions of Sections 119, 120, 122, 127, 128, 137, 141 and 143 of the Criminal Procedure Act, the forfeiture of the bail bond is contemplated during the criminal trial and not after a discharge and acquittal of the accused/3rd respondent. This is because once judgment is delivered resulting either in conviction or discharge and acquittal, the obligation of the surety ceases to exist. The implication is that the application for forfeiture which the appellant brought after the judgment which culminated in the discharge and acquittal of the 3rd respondent cannot be explained within any law known in our nation since by that time the exercise of jurisdiction of the trial Court over the matter that had to do with the charge on which the 3rd respondent faced had terminated. What I am trying to say is that the appellant was trying by the Motion for forfeiture of the bail bond to resurrect a dead and buried process which the Court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain.

— M.U. Peter-Odili, JSC. FRN v Maishanu (2019) – SC.51/2015

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I think it is fairly well settled and not a matter of argument that a court will take judicial notice of its records and proceedings. In respect of the valid judgments of a court of Record, the court will readily take judicial notice of its judgments reported and unreported. I would not draw any distinction between panels of the same court. A decision of one panel is a decision of the Court and each Panel will take judicial notice of it. In my view, it is only for convenience that published report of valid judgments of court or copies of its unreported judgments are brought before a court. They need not be, they could just be cited.

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

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