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NULL JUDGEMENTS BECOME MERE DOCUMENTS; COURT CANNOT TAKE JUDICIAL NOTICE OF ALL DOCUMENTS IN HIS REGISTRY

Dictum

As stated earlier, such judgments exist not as judgments but as documents. They become documents as any other document in the Registry of the court. It would be most tedious to argue that the court could take judicial notice of every document in its registry. Section 73 of the Evidence Act deals with matters, which the court can take judicial notice of. As stated earlier, a judgment declared null exists in fact, it exists as a document in the Registry. In my view, if any party to proceedings desires to make use of such document, it has to be produced before the court. Section 73(3) of the Evidence Act provides that:-“If the Court is called upon by any person to take judicial notice of any facts, it may refuse to do so unless and until such person produces any such book or document as it may consider necessary to enable it to do so.”

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

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NOT EVERY ERROR IN A JUDGEMENT WILL VITIATE IT

It is not every mistake or error in a judgment or decision that could vitiate such a decision as the mistake has to be shown to have led to a miscarriage of justice or materially or substantially affected the decision making to have such impact. See Owhonda v Ekpechi (2003) 9-10 SC 1 at 21; Mrs. Jumbo v R. S. H. P. A. D. A. (2005) 5 SC (Pt.11) 102 at 112. — M.U. Peter-Odili, JSC. Kwara Judicial Commission v Tolani (2019) – SC.63/2010

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CONSEQUENTIAL ORDER GIVES EFFECT TO A JUDGEMENT

A consequential order is an order founded on the claim of the successful party. In other words, a consequential order is one which is not merely incidental to a decision properly made, but one which is merely to give effect to that decision. – Karibe-Whyte JSC. Awoniyi v. AMORC (2000)

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CIRCUMSTANCES WHERE COURT MAY SET ASIDE ITS OWN JUDGEMENT

Circumstances in which a court may invoke its inherent power to set aside its judgment or order are:- (1) To correct any clerical error or mistakes arising from accidental slip or omission or to vary the judgment or order so as to give effect to its meaning or intention under the Rules of Court Order 5 rule 3 Court of Appeal Rules, 1981. (2) Until a court pronounces a judgment on merit or by consent of the parties a court retains the power to set aside its default judgment obtained in the absence of one of the parties or default of pleadings – The power to do so is however discretionary and has to be exercised judiciously. Mohammed v. Husseini (1998) 14 NWLR (Pt.584) 130; paragraphs D-E. Williams v. Hope Rising Voluntary Funds Society (1982) 1-2 SC 145; (3) Where a judgment has been obtained as a result of fraud practiced by one of the parties Ojiaka v. Ogueze(1962) 1 SCNLR 112, (1962) 1 All NLR 58; Ekerete v. Eke (1925) 6 NLR 118; Craig v. Kanseen (1943) K.B. 256; Agunbiade v. Okunoga (1961) 1 All NLR 110. (4) Where a judgment is a nullity, due to a fundamental defect which goes to the issue of jurisdiction and competence of the court. J. A. Folorunso v. Shaloub (1994) 3 NWLR (Pt.333) 413 at 422, paragraphs G-H; Skenconsult (Nig.) Ltd. Ukey (1981) 1 SC 6.

— O.O. Adekeye, JCA. Omotunde v. Omotunde (2000) – CA/I/M.57/2000

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ONLY COURT OF LAW CAN PASS GUILT OF AN OFFENCE

A university student is a priceless asset and as he is on the threshold of useful service to the nation, we cannot afford to destroy him by stigmatising him with offences unless proved guilty before a Court. – Andrews Otutu Obaseki, JSC. Garba & Ors. v. The University Of Maiduguri (1986) 1 NWLR (Pt.18) 550

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ONLY WHEN ERROR IN JUDGEMENT OF COURT BELOW IS SUBSTANTIAL THAT APPEAL WILL BE ALLOWED

At all events, it is not every mistake or error in a judgment that will result in the appeal being allowed. It is only when the error is substantial in that it has occasioned a miscarriage of Justice that the appellate court is bound to interfere. See Onajobi v. Olanipekun (1985) 4 S.C. (Pt.2) 156 at 163; Oje v. Babalola (1991) 4 NWLR (Pt.185) 267 at 282; Ukejianya v. Uchendu (1950) 13WACA 45 at 46; Azuetonma Ike v. Ugboaja (1993) 6 NWLR (Pt.30 1)539 at 556; Ahiodun Famuroti v. Madam Agbeke (1991) 5 NWLR (Pt.189) 1; (1991) 6 S.CN.J. 54 at 64 etc. No miscarriage 1 of justice has been occasioned by the observation of the court below that the return of the title deeds to the 1st appellant during the pendency of the appeal had put an end to the dispute.

— Iguh, JSC. Onamade v ACB (1997) – SC.199/1990

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PRESUMPTION AS TO CORRECTNESS OF TRIAL COURT JUDGMENT

The law is that the conclusion of the trial Court on the facts is presumed to be correct, so that presumption must be displaced by the person seeking to upset the judgment on the facts.

– Ogakwu, J.C.A Fijabi v. FBN (2021)

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