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RULES OF COURT MUST BE OBEYED

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The rules of court must prima facie be obeyed. As such it is the court which can extend indulgence to a party in a case before it to depart from the rules. The courts have an inherent jurisdiction to ensure compliance by litigants with the rules of court and to strike out any process not filed in compliance with the relevant rules. See UBA Ltd v. Odusote Bookstores Ltd (1995) 9 NWLR (pt 421) 558; Onifade v. Olayiwola (1990) 7 NWLR (pt. 161) 130 at 166 – 167.

— M.U. Peter-Odili, JSC. Ugo v. Ugo (2007) – CA/A/110/2007

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DEPENDING ON CIRCUMSTANCES, RULES OF COURT MAY NOT MANDATORILY BE COMPLIED WITH

There are instances where a party, due to no fault of his, is unable to comply with rules of court. Where there is such non-compliance, the attitude and reaction of the court will depend on the facts and circumstances of such case. The circum-stances form part of the sole issue for determination, distilled and formulated by the Appellant in his brief of argument in this appeal. There are thus, exceptions to the jurisprudence that rules of court must be complied with. In a circumstance where a party who is unable to comply with the rules of court advances cogent materials for non-compliance, that brings his case within the exception for which the Applicant can get a waiver.

— Mufutau Bamidele Akande v Professor Olugbemiro Jegede (2022) – SC./948/2015

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NON-COMPLIANCE WITH RULES OF COURT CANNOT ROB THE COURT OF JURISDICTION

We must not also be oblivious of the fact that non-compliance with Rules of court though amounts to serious irregularities in procedure, it cannot rob the court of jurisdiction and cannot render the decision of the court void.

– H.M. Ogunwumiju, JCA. ITV v. Edo Internal Revenue (2014) – CA/B/20/2013

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THE COURT WILL DO JUSTICE BY PROCEDURE LAID DOWN BY LAW

Bakare v. Apena (1986) 6 SC 467 @ p. 468, where the Supreme Court per Aniagolu JSC (God bless his soul) had succinctly stated inter alia thus: “A judge will not adopt a method of adjudication alien to procedural rule of justice upon a plea that he is actuated by the noblest of intentions and an impassionate zeal, for justice which propels him to bizarre methods of arriving at justice holding as it were, as justifying Machiavellian principle, that the end justifies the means. The Court as the last resort will indeed do justice by the procedure laid down by law and constitution. The moment a Court ceases to do justice in accordance with the law and procedure laid down for it, it ceases to be a regular Court to become a kangaroo Court.’’

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NONCOMPLIANCE IN RULES WILL NOT RESULT IN JUDGEMENT BEING SET ASIDE

It is trite to say that non-compliance with rules of court will not necessarily result in the judgment given in the case being set aside and it is also clear that once a step is taken in the proceedings by a party complaining about the breach of the rules of court he is said to have waived the breach. This was the decision of this court in the case of Jozebson Industries Co. v. R. Lauwers Import-Export (1988) All NLR 310 at 333; (1988) 3 NWLR (Pt.83) 429.

— Mohammed, JSC. Kossen v Savannah Bank (1995) – SC.209/89

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RULES OF COURT ARE NOT MEANT TO DEFEAT BUT AID THE JUSTICE SYSTEM – RULES SHOULD NOT BE TYRANNICAL

It is now notorious and trite law that all rules of court should be obeyed and followed.
This is because rules of court are not for fancy or fun or window dressing, since they are helpful in regulating prosecution of cases in court, such that they occupy a place akin to a roadmap for the quick convenience, fair trial and orderly disposal of cases. Rules of court are part of the support system in the administration of justice. This is particularly important, as courts have departed from adherence to technical justice. However, to achieve the purpose of obeying the Rules of Court in advancement of the course of justice, the rules of court should not be tyrannical and uncompromis-ing masters, as the Appellant has urged. This is to avoid a slavish interpretation, defeating the essence and purpose of the rules of court and ultimately the justice system.

— Mufutau Bamidele Akande v Professor Olugbemiro Jegede (2022) – SC./948/2015

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THE BINDING NATURE OF THE RULES OF COURTS

Nnachi v. Onuorah & Anor (2011) LPELR – 4626 (CA) @ pp. 16 -17, where this Court per Garba JCA (as he then was but now JSC) had stated inter alia thus: “The law is settled that the Rules of Court binds both the Court and especially the parties in the preparation of processes to be filed in the Court. The Rules of Court are not intended or made merely to adorn the pages on which they were printed and to decorate the shelves or libraries of the Court, but meant to be complied with since it regulates the practice and procedure in the exercise of the Court’s powers and jurisdiction over matters that come before them. Because our Courts are Courts of law their powers and jurisdiction conferred by the law should or must be exercised in compliance or adherence with the rules of practice and procedure pursuant to the law. The primary duty of the Court is to do justice in cases that come before them, in accordance with the Rules of the Court provided to guide the procedure for the attainment of such justice which is to be justice according to the law applied to the peculiarities of a given case.”

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