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SUMMARY JUDGEMENT IS FOR DISPOSAL OF UNCONTESTED CLAIMS

Dictum

In the instant case after the exchange of pleadings the respondent (as plaintiff at the trial court) brought an application for summary judgment under Order 11 Rules 1 and 2 of the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules 1994. The summary judgment procedure is for disposing of cases which are virtually uncontested with dispatch. It applies to cases where there can be no reasonable doubt that the plaintiff is entitled to judgment and where it is inexpedient to allow a defendant to defend for mere purposes of delay. It is for the plain and straight forward, not for the devious and crafty. See U.B.A. Plc Vs Jargaba (2007) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1045) 247 @ 270 F-H per I.T. Muhammad, JSC; Sochipo Vs Leminkainen OY (1986) 1 NWLR (Pt. 15) 230: Adebisr Macqreoor Ass. Ltd. Vs N.M.B. Ltd (1996) 2 NWLR (Pt. 431) 378: (1996) 2 SCNJ 72 @ 81.

— K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun JSC. B.O. Lewis v. United Bank for Africa Plc. (SC.143/2006, 14 January 2016)

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NIGERIAN JUDGEMENTS CAN BE ENTERED IN FOREIGN CURRENCY

If there was any doubt that judgment can now be entered in foreign currency as the Court of Appeal had done, the opinion of Ogundare, JSC in Koya v. United Bank for Africa Ltd. (1997) 1 NWLR (Pt. 481) 251, 269 – 289 should, in my opinion, lay such doubt to rest. After a review of several local and English authorities he said at p. 289: “It is my respectful view that courts in this country can claim jurisdiction to entertain and determine cases where sums in foreign currencies are claimed. The old rule in England, as well as in Nigeria, is judge-made and in the light of present day circumstances of extensive international commercial relationships, that rule should give way to a new rule as now in England more so that the difficulties hitherto experienced in enforcing such judgments no longer apply.”

— Ayoola, JSC. Saeby v. Olaogun (1999) – SC.261/1993

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JUDGEMENT IN REM

In Oni & Anor V Oyebanji & Ors( SC/CV/398/2023 on 6-4-2023) this court Per Agim JSC restated the law on this concept thusly “As this Court held in Ogboru & Anor v. Uduaghan & Ors (2011) LPELR-8236 (SC) “A judgement in rem may be defined as the judgement of a court of competent jurisdiction determining the status of a person or thing as distinct from the particular interest of a party to the litigation. Apart from the application of the term to persons, it must affect the “res” in the way of condemnation, forfeiture, declaration, status or title. (a) Examples are judgment of a Court over a will creating the status of administration. (b) Judgment in a divorce by a Court of competent jurisdiction dissolving a marriage declaring the nullity or affirming its existence. (c) Judgment in an election petition. The feature of a judgment in rem is that it binds all persons – 36 whether a party to the proceedings or not. It stops anyone from raising the issue of the status of persons or persons or things, or the rights or title to properly litigated before a competent Court. It is indeed conclusive against the entire world in whatever it settles as to status of the person or property. All persons whether party to the proceedings or not are stopped from averring that the status of persons is other than the Court has by such judgement declared or made it to be.” Okpalugo vs. Adeshoye (t996) 10 NELR pt. 476, pg. 77, Fan trades Ltd. vs Uni Association Co. Ltd. (2002) 8 NWLR Pt. 770, pg. 699., Ogbahon vs. Reg. Trustees CCCG (2002) 1 NWLR Pt. 749, pg. 675, Olaniyan vs Fatoki (2003) 13 NWLR pt. 837, Pg. 273.

— E.A. Agim, JSC. Oyetola v INEC & Ors. (2022) – SC/CV/508/2023

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WHAT IS A FINAL JUDGEMENT?

In Obasi Brothers Merchant Co. Ltd. vs. Merchant Bank of Africa Securities Ltd. (2005) 2 SCNJ 272, Pat-Acholonu, JSC held at page 278 that: “A final judgment is one which decides the rights of parties. In other words it is a decision on the merits of the case where the matter is assiduously canvassed and the rendition of a judgment is based on what is canvassed and agitated before the Courts by the legal combatants.”

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JUDGEMENT IN REM VS JUDGEMENT IN PERSONAM

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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JUSTICE MUST DELIVER OPINION IN WRITING; APPLIES TO ANY PANEL WITH MORE THAN ONE PANEL

It is evident from this constitutional provision that the intention of the framers of the Constitution is that where a panel of justices hears a cause or matter, each of them must express and deliver his opinion in writing. Such written opinion may however be delivered by any other justice of the court on behalf of a justice who participated in the hearing but is unavoidably absent. The opinion delivered must be the opinion of the justices who participated in the hearing. Even though the provisions of section 294 (1) and (2) refers specifically to; Justices of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, it is my view that the principle is applicable to any court or tribunal that sits in a panel of two or more members.

— Kekere-Ekun, JSC. Nyesom v. Peterside (SC.1002/2015 (REASONS), 12 Feb 2016)

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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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