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MORE AUTHORITIES WILL NOT MAKE THE COURT DEPART FROM HIS EARLIER STANCE

Dictum

It seems to me that the authority could justify the stance taken by Chief Williams in the presentation of his arguments when he seemed, with respect, to have presented the same arguments as he did in the Ifezue case, but now with more authorities and emphasis. However I am of the clear view that for this Court to depart from its decision in a previous case, the arguments must bring some fresh elements not just more authorities which had not been adverted to in the earlier proceedings, or that there have been new developments, even in the socio-economic or political stance of the country, especially when the matter under consideration is a matter that is provided for by the Constitution, to warrant the Court to change its earlier stand. In this case, I have gone through the profound submissions of Chief Williams and it seems to me, with utmost respect, that all the learned senior advocate has succeeded in doing is to re-argue the Ifezue case with more authorities on the same points as earlier canvassed or at least to regard the present case as an appeal over the Ifezue case. I do not think that would be sufficient to persuade me to reconsider my earlier stand in the Ifezue case.

— Eso, JSC. Odi v Osafile (1985) – SC.144/1983

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SUPREME COURT HAS THE POWER TO OVERRULE ITSELF

My simple answer is that it is not part of the jurisdiction or duties of this Court to go on looking for imaginary conflicts. We are final not because we are infallible; rather we are infallible because we are final. Justices of this Court are human-beings, capable of erring. It will certainly be short sighted arrogance not to accept this obvious truth. It is also true that this Court can do inestimable good through its wise decisions. Similarly, the Court can do incalculable harm through its mistakes. When therefore it appears to learned counsel that any decision of this Court has been given per incuriam, such counsel should have the boldness and courage to ask that such a decision be over-ruled. This Court has the power to over-rule itself (and has done so in the past) for it gladly accepts that it is far better to admit an error than to persevere in error. Learned counsel has not asked us to over-rule either Skenconsult or Ezomo supra. If that was what was wanted, the Briefs should have said so specifically and the Chief Justice of the Federation would have gladly empanelled a Full Court.

– Oputa, JSC. Adegoke v. Adesanya (1989)

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THE SUPREME COURT CANNOT SIT ON APPEAL OVER ITS OWN DECISION

Having said that may I state that by virtue of Section 235 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the Supreme Court cannot sit on appeal over its own judgment. The provision gives a stamp of finality to any decision of the Supreme Court. There is no constitutional provision for the review of the judgment of the Supreme Court by itself. See Eleazor Obioha v. Innocent Ibero and Anor (1994) 1 NWLR (pt.322) 503. However, it has been held by this court that the Supreme Court possesses inherent power to set aside its judgment in appropriate cases but that such inherent jurisdiction cannot be converted into an appellate jurisdiction as though the matter before it is another appeal, intended to afford the losing litigants yet another opportunity to re-state or re-argue their appeal.

— J.I. Okoro JSC. Citec v. Francis (SC.116/2011, 21 February 2014)

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SOME CASES WHERE THE SUPREME COURT HAS OVERRULED ITSELF

Counsel then referred first to American authorities to indicate that the Supreme Court of the US has frequently overruled itself. These cases are: Brown v. Board of Education 98 L Ed 873, 38A LR 2nd 1180 (overruling Plessy v. Fergusson 41 L Ed 216 on racial segregation matters) Girouard v. U.S. 90 L Ed 1084 (overruling US v. Schwimmer 73 L Ed 889) West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette 87 L Ed 1628, 147 A.L.R. 674 (overruling Minersville School Dist. v. Gobitis 84 L. Ed. 1375, 127 A.L.R. 1493 as to constitutionality of requirements to salute the flag of USA).

— Obaseki, JSC. Odi v Osafile (1985) – SC.144/1983

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THE SUPREME COURT HAS THE POWER TO OVERRULE ITSELF

Adegoke Motors Ltd v. Dr. Adesanya & Anor (1986) 3 NWLR (Pt. 109) 250 at 274; (1989) 5 SCNJ 80, inter alia, thus; “We are final not because we are infallible; rather we are infallible because we are final, Justices of this Court are human beings, capable of erring. It will certainly be short-sighted arrogance not to accept this obvious truth. It is also true that this Court can do inestimable good through its wise decisions. Similarly, the Court can do incalculable harm through its mistakes. When therefore it appears to learned Counsel that any decision of this Court has been given per incuriam, such Counsel should have the boldness and courage to ask that such decision shall be over-ruled. This Court has the power to overrule itself (and has done so in the past) for it gladly accepts that it is far better to admit an error than to preserve an error.”

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SUPREME COURT CANNOT DEAL ON ISSUES DIRECTLY FROM THE HIGH COURT

Another point worthy of mentioning in passing is that the issues for determination as formulated by the respondent’s Counsel indicate discussions on the treatment of the matters raised as dealt with by the trial High Court. This court has clearly and obviously no jurisdiction to hear and consider appeals from the decisions of the High Court. The jurisdiction of this Court is limited to a complaint on a decision of the Court of Appeal and the issues formulated by the respondent are only concerned with the decision of the trial High Court. It is for the above, that I consider the respondent’s brief incompetent and is accordingly struck out by me. I shall discuss this appeal by reference only to the appellant’s brief argument.

— Musdapher, JSC. Shittu & Ors. v Fashawe [2005] – SC 21/2001

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CONDITIONS FOR THE EXERCISE OF SECTION 22 OF THE SUPREME COURT ACT

In determining whether the conditions surrounding an appeal before the Supreme court are conducive to the exercise of its general power under section 22 of the Supreme Court act as if the proceedings had been instituted and prosecuted before it as a court of first instance, the court will consider the followings: (a) The Availability before it of all the necessary materials on which to consider the request of the party. (b) The length of time between the disposal of the action in the court below and the hearing of the appeal at the Supreme Court. (c) The interest of justice to eliminate further delay in the hearing of the matter and minimize the hardship of the party.

– Tobi JSC. Odedo v. INEC (2008)

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