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TRIAL COURT HAS POWER TO ENFORCE ITS OWN JUDGEMENT

Dictum

The judgment subsists and remains binding on the parties until set aside; and it took immediate effect from the date it was pronounced. Section 287(3) of the Constitution enjoins the said trial Court to enforce its own judgment.

— Ejembi Eko, JSC. Oboh & Anor v. NFL (SC.841/2016, January 28, 2022)

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COURT CANNOT TAKE JUDICIAL NOTICE OF A NULLIFIED JUDGEMENT NOT PRODUCED BEFORE IT

Whether the record and contents of a nullified judgment ought formally be produced in court or extract thereof be placed before the court before the opinions expressed therein could be countenanced; or whether the Court of Appeal could have taken notice of their existence and contents by the mere fact that the nullified judgment was probably in the archives of the court. In Attorney-General v. Silem L.R. 10 H.L. Cas. 704, it was held that S.26 of the Queens Remembrance Act, 1859, which empowered the Barons of Exchequer to frame rules for making “the process, practice and mode of pleading” on the revenue side of the court uniform with that of the plea side, did not give the Judges the power of entertaining appeals on revenue cases, as they assumed. It is always necessary to exercise powers conferred by an enabling statute within the four comers of the statute: see Australian cases of Tavcar v. Tavcar (1950) A.L.R. 260; White v. White (1947) A.L.R. 342. It therefore appears to me that the power, conferred by S.73(1) of the Evidence Act, for a court to take judicial notice of its course of proceedings and rules of practice cannot rightly be invoked to take judicial notice of the contents of a nullified judgment, which the members had not earlier had an opportunity of seeing. For, true, it existed as a fact, being devoid of any legal consequences, it was then like any other opinion, say, in a textbook. I do not think that anybody can suggest that such a textbook opinion should be judicially noticed.

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

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ONCE JUDGEMENT IS DELIVERED, THE OBLIGATION OF SURETY CEASES

It need be examined the extent of duty and responsibility of the 1st and 2nd respondents as sureties to the 3rd respondent who was standing trial before the Court of trial and that obligation is to ensure that the 3rd respondent attended trial from the inception of trial to judgment delivery and that is what the bail bond entails. Therefore by the effect of the combined provisions of Sections 119, 120, 122, 127, 128, 137, 141 and 143 of the Criminal Procedure Act, the forfeiture of the bail bond is contemplated during the criminal trial and not after a discharge and acquittal of the accused/3rd respondent. This is because once judgment is delivered resulting either in conviction or discharge and acquittal, the obligation of the surety ceases to exist. The implication is that the application for forfeiture which the appellant brought after the judgment which culminated in the discharge and acquittal of the 3rd respondent cannot be explained within any law known in our nation since by that time the exercise of jurisdiction of the trial Court over the matter that had to do with the charge on which the 3rd respondent faced had terminated. What I am trying to say is that the appellant was trying by the Motion for forfeiture of the bail bond to resurrect a dead and buried process which the Court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain.

— M.U. Peter-Odili, JSC. FRN v Maishanu (2019) – SC.51/2015

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JUDGEMENT MUST BE CONFINED TO PARTIES ISSUES

This is because it is a fundamental principle of the determination of disputes between parties that judgment must be confined to the issues raised by the parties and it is not competent for the court to make a case for either or both of the parties and then proceed to give judgment on the case so formulated contrary to the case of the parties.

– Iguh, JSC. Oshatoba v. Olujitan (2000)

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

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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EVERY JUDGEMENT TAKES EFFECT ON PRONOUNCEMENT

In the case of INTERCONTRACTORS NIGERIA LTD v. U.A.C. OF NIGERIA LTD (supra) or (1988) (Pt. 1) Vol. 9 NSCC 737 at 752. This court per KARIBI WHYTE JSC stated:- “It is well settled that every judgment takes effect on pronouncement – see BANK OF WEST AFRICA LTD v. N.I.P.C LTD [1962] LLR 31; OLAYINKA v. ELUSANMI [1971] 1 NMLR 277. A judgment debtor seeking to stay the execution must show that he is challenging the judgment, or is asking for time to comply with the terms of the judgment.”

— D. Musdapher JSC. M.O. Olatunji v. Owena Bank (PLC) & Anor. (SC.349/2002, 25 April 2008)

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MAGISTRATE COURT IS TO DELIVER JUDGEMENT WITHIN TIMEFRAME SET BY THE CONSTITUTION

In any case, section 294(1) of the Constitution is intended to ensure that a court delivers its judgment before the lapse of human memory. Those who preside over the Magistrates’ Court have no claim to better and longer memory than the Judges of Superior Courts, nor can there be a double standard of justice delivery, one in the lower and the other in the High Courts.

— Ngwuta JSC. The State v. Monsurat Lawal (SC. 80/2004, 15 Feb 2013)

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