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THE CASE OF UCHE NWOSU DOES NOT APPLY TO THIS

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So, for the decision of this Court in Uche Nwosu’s case to apply mutatis mutandis, the fourth Respondent, who the Appellant contends has offended the law, would need to have contested two Primary Elections, emerged winners of both, and had his name forwarded by both Parties as their respective candidates for the 2023 General Election. Did he purchase a second nomination form to warrant stepping into the Appellant’s shoes in Uche Nwosu V. APP (supra), and thus, invite the same pronouncement thereat on himself? No; the fourth Respondent was not required to buy any nomination form. He was the second Respondent [APC]’s candidate at the election into the Office of Senator representing the Borno Central Senatorial District. But before the election could hold, he was nominated as the third Respondent’s associate, who is to occupy the office of Vice-President. The fourth Respondent did not buy a nomination form for the said office, and most importantly, did not contest any primary election in order to emerge as APC’s Vice-Presidential candidate. Given these acute dissimilarities, can the facts of the two cases be the same? Can such a scenario come within the parameters of Section 35 of the said Act? I think not; this cannot be the intention of the lawmaker as that will lead to absurdity. It is the law that statutes should be given their natural meaning, except to do so will lead to absurdity Toriola V. Williams (1982) 7 SC 27/46, Nonye V. Anyichie (2005) 2 NWLR (Pt. 910) 623, (2005) 1 SCNJ 306 at 316.

— A.A. Augie, JSC. PDP v INEC (2023) – SC/CV/501/2023

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STARE DECISIS MAKES THE LAW CERTAIN

It is a policy of Courts to stand by established precedent for the certainty of the law. Agreed, no two cases have identical facts. Where, however, the facts of the decided case are substantially the same with the case at hand, the principle of stare decisis enjoins a Court to follow the earlier judicial decisions when the same points arose again in litigation. It is also a rule of law that ensures certainty in the state of the law and its application.

– E. Eko JSC. Mailantarki v. Tongo (2017) – SC.792/2015

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CONDITION FOR WHICH A DECISION CAN BE USED AS A PRECEDENCE IN ANOTHER CASE

The principles laid down in the cases cited by the lower Court will be applicable to the instant case only where the accented facts of this matter are the same as the facts that induced the decision in those cases, due regard being had to the statutes and the Rules of Court governing the different Courts. Also, since, facts are the arrowhead and fountainhead of the law, the decision in a case is intricately related to the facts that induced that decision.

– PER J.H. Sankey, J.C.A. Gonimi v. Surundi (2022) – CA/G/7/2022

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THE SUPREME COURT IS BOUND BY PRECEDENT

This Court is bound by precedent when the facts of the previous decisions have similar material facts with the case before the Court. See DALHATU v. TURAKI (2003) 15 NWLR Pt. 843 Pg. 310, NOBIS-ELENDU v. INEC & ORS (2015) LPELR-25127 (SC), DR. UMAR ARDO V. ADMIRAL MURTALA NYAKO & ORS (2014) LPELR-22878 (SC),NIGERIA AGIP OIL COMPANY LTD v. CHIEF GIFT NKWEKE (2016) LPELR 26060 (SC) and most importantly, the pronouncement of MUHAMMAD, JSC in the case of NWABUEZE v. THE PEOPLE OF LAGOS STATE (2018) LPELR-44113 (SC) where his Lordship held thus: “It is therefore settled that a Court … is bound by its own or the ratio decidendi of a higher Court in an earlier case, if the issues of fact and the legislation the Court considers subsequently are same or similar … where the lower Court, as in the instant case, holds itself bound by the decision… on the same or similar facts, Appellant’s grudge against the lower Court’s decision cannot therefore, be taken seriously…”

— H.M. Ogunwumiju, JSC. UBA v Triedent Consulting Ltd. (SC.CV/405/2013, July 07, 2023)

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STARE DECISIS ON SIMILAR FACTS

It is settled that Courts, including this Court are bound by the earlier decisions of the apex Court on same or similar facts determined on the basis of same or similar legislations in their subsequent determination of cases in respect of same or similar facts and on the basis of same or similar legislations. See ATOLAGBE & ANOR V. AWUNI & ORS (1997) LPELR – 593 (SC) and DR. UMAR V. ADMIRAL MURTALA NYAKO & ORS (2014) LPELR – 22878 (SC).

– M.D. Muhammad JSC. Odey v. Alaga (2021) – SC.9/2021

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THE IMPORTANCE OF STARE DECISIS IN OUR ADJUDICATORY SYSTEM

The most fundamental methodology of administration law in our country, as in most legal systems particularly the common law based systems, is stare decisis, the policy or legal principle which requires courts to follow judicial precedents established by previous decisions. Courts are mandatorily bound to follow the decisions of superior courts that are higher than them in the judicial hierarchy. All courts are bound to follow Supreme Court decisions in cases that are similar to the ones before them. It will amount to a very serious error of law for a court to refuse to follow the judicial precedent of a superior court higher in the judicial hierarchy in a case whose facts are obviously basically similar to the facts of the case before it. It is the kind of judicial attitude that is viewed, across jurisdictions, as a deliberate refusal to follow the law. Whatever different views a judge may hold as to how the law was applied to the facts in the precedent case, he or she is bound to follow the judicial precedent of the Supreme court or in the absence of a Supreme Court precedent, that of a superior court higher in the judicial hierarchy, provided the facts of the present case and that of the precedent case are basically similar. The mandatory duty to follow judicial precedent is in the public interest. It ensures that the adjudicatory process is organized and orderly. It ensures that the judicial application of law to facts is orderly and consistent and thereby makes the law more certain, predictable and responsive to the changed circumstances and expectations of the society. It helps to harmonize judicial opinion and ensure an orderly change of such opinion. The great success of the policy of stare decisis as a very reliable adjudicatory process for centuries, has attracted its application even in Roman Dutch based legal systems in varying degrees. In any case our indigenous traditional adjudicating system is precedent based. It will be dangerous to encourage derogations from the principle of stare decisis. The dis-equilibrating effects can better be imagined. Suffice it to say that it will certainly result in the failure of the judicial process, a failure of the legal system and the resulting collapse of the state structure. These consequences which may appear remote can occur as a direct result of such derogations.

– E.A. Agim, JCA. Ogidi v. Okoli [2014] – CA/AK/130/2012

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EACH CASE IS ONLY AN AUTHORITY FOR WHAT IT DECIDES

Let me emphasise here, and it is important to always bear in mind that the decision of a court must always be considered in the light of its own peculiar facts and circumstances. No one case is identical to another though they may be similar. Thus, each case is only an authority for what it decides. It cannot be applied across board. The case of Nwosu (supra) is different in all expects from the instant appeal and cannot be applied without more. See Skye Bank Plc & Anor. Vs. Chief Moses Bolanle Akinpelu (2010) 9 NWLR (Pt.1198), Okafor Vs. Nnaife (1987)4 NWLR (Pt.64)129, Peoples Democratic Party Vs. INEC (2018) LPELR-44373 (SC).

— J.I. Okoro, JSC. PDP v INEC (2023) – SC/CV/501/2023

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