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PROCEDURE FOR CONTEMPT: EX FACIE CURIAE

Dictum

Above all, the case must be one the facts surrounding the alleged contempt are so notorious as to be virtually incontestable, where the Judge would have to rely on evidence or testimony of witnesses to events occurring outside his view and outside of his presence in Court, he should not try the case himself. The matter must be placed before another judge where the usual procedure for the arrest, charge and prosecution of the offender must be followed, Oku v. The State. In other words, in the trial of criminal contempt ex facie curiae, an offender is entitled to the benefit of a full process of a criminal trial.

– Chima Centus Nweze, J.S.C. Independent National Electoral Commission & Anor v. Ejike Oguebego & Ors (2017)

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CONTEMPT OF COURT IS TO PROTECT DIGNITY OF THE COURT

Contempt of court may be described as any act or conduct which interferes with the course of justice and tends to bring the authority and administration of law into disrespect. The twin elements of contempt of court are, therefore, interference and disrespect. The aim of the law of contempt of court, therefore, is to protect the dignity of court from any conduct that tends to obstruct or interfere with the administration of justice.

– Achike JCA. Adeyemi v. Edigin (1990)

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LAW OF CONTEMPT IS FOR UPHOLDING THE EFFECTIVE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE

The principles enshrined in the law of contempt are there to hold and ensure the effective administration of justice. They are the means by which the law vindicates the public interest in the administration of justice. It is also settled that the law of contempt does not exist for the sake of the personal aggrandizement of the judge nor is it there to protect the private rights of parties or litigants.

– Kekere-Ekun, JCA. Alechenu v. AG Benue (2011) – CA/J/220/2002

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COMMITTAL FOR CONTEMPT IS BY WAY OF BREVI MANU

Committal for contempt in the face of the Court is by way of a brevi manu procedure. This allows the Judge to be the accuser, prosecutor, jury and Judge all rolled into one. It is a negation of some of the very well-known principles upon which our common law oriented adjudicatory mechanism are founded upon. Of great and utmost concern is the total derogation of one of the pillars of the principles of natural justice; where it is not allowed for one to be a Judge in his own case- Nemo judex in causa sua, in the brevi manu procedure.

– A.A.B. Gumel, JCA. Alechenu v. AG Benue (2011) – CA/J/220/2002

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DUE PROCEDURE MUST BE FOLLOWED FOR CONTEMPT

It is trite that contempt of Court is an office sui generis. An application for committal for any disobedience of an order of Court is a very serious matter as it involves in most cases an exceptional interference with the liberty of a subject and therefore when any antecedent process has to be put in motion every prescribed step and rule however technical should be carefully taken, observed and insisted upon. Any irregularity in the procedure for committed is a fundamental vice which vitiates the entire application.

– P.O. Elechi, JCA. Mofunanya v. Nwadiogbu (2017) – CA/E/282/2009

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CONTEMPT: IN FACIE CURIAE VS EX FACIE CURIAE

Here, I take liberty to restate that there are two broad classifications of contempt: that committed in facie curiae and that committed ex facie curiae. In the latter category, a charge and a plea are necessary and the accused is entitled to a fair hearing of the case against him.

– Chima Centus Nweze, J.S.C. Independent National Electoral Commission & Anor v. Ejike Oguebego & Ors (2017)

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