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WHAT IS AN ACADEMIC ISSUE

Dictum

An academic issue or question is one which does not require answer or adjudication by a Court of law because it is not necessary to the case on hand. An academic issue or question could be a hypothetical or moot question. An academic issue or question does not relate to the live issue in the litigation because it is as it will not enure an if right or benefit on the successful party. Per NIKI TOBI, JSC @ 35 paragraphs D-H. Plateau State VS. AG. FEDERATION (2006) 3 NWLR (pt. 976) 346; OGBONNA VS. PRESIDENT FRN (1997) 5 NWLR (pt. 504) 281; HON. EKEBEDE UCHENNA VS. PDP & ORS: delivered on 03/3/2023 SC/CV/148/2023.

— I.M.M. Saulawa JSC. Peter Obi & Anor. v. INEC & Ors. (SC/CV/937/2023, Thursday the 26th day of October 2023)

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AN ACADEMIC QUESTION DOES NOT REQUIRE AN ANSWER; IT IS NOT A LIVE ISSUE

It is settled that an academic question is an issue that does not require any answer or adjudication by a Court see Agbakoba V. INEC (2008) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1119) 489 SC, wherein this Court, per Chukwuma-Eneh, JSC, further explained as follows – An action becomes hypothetical or raises mere academic point when there is no live matter in it to be adjudicated upon or when its determination holds no practical or tangible value for making a pronouncement upon it; it is otherwise an exercise in futility. When an issue has become defunct, it does not require to be answered or controvert about and leads to making of bare legal postulations, which the Court should not indulge in; it is like the salt that has lost its seasoning. And like the salt in that state, it has no practical value to anybody and so also, a Suit in that state has none. See also Adeogun V. Fashogbun (2008) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1115) 149 SC, wherein this Court, per Niki Tobi, JSC, also observed as follows – Academic and hypothetical issues of questions do not help in the determination of the live issues in a matter. They are merely on a frolic or they are frolicsome; not touching or affecting the very tangible and material aspects in the adjudication process. As a matter of law, they add nothing to the truth searching process in administration of justice. This is because they do not relate to any relief.

— A.A. Augie, JSC. Usman v The State (2019) – SC.228/2016

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WHEN IS THERE NO LIVE ISSUE BETWEEN THE PARTIES

There cannot be said to be a live issue in a litigation if what is presented to the Court for a decision, when decided, cannot affect the parties thereto in any way either because of the fundamental nature of the reliefs sought or of changed circumstances since after the litigation started. In the instant case, it would be, in my opinion, the pursuit of great injustice, if the learned trial Judge, discovering the absence of a live issue in the suit, had allowed sleeping dogs to lie.

— C.C. Nweze, JSC. Uzoho v NCP (SC.141/2007, Friday, May 13, 2022)

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WHAT IS AN ACADEMIC ISSUE?

The Apex Court and indeed this court have in a plethora of decisions given an insight into what constitutes an academic exercise. In the case of Ogbonna v. President, F.R.N. (1997) 5 NWLR (Pt. 504) page 281, this court Per Uwaifo, JCA (as he then was) made the point that: “If no purpose will be served by an action or appeal or any issue raised in it other than its mere academic interest, the court will not entertain it … the law is that it is an essential quality of a suit or an appeal fit to be disposed of by a court that there should exist between the parties a matter in actual controversy which the court undertakes to decide as a living issue. Moreover, a court deals only with live issues and steers clear of those that are academic. But there cannot be said to be a live issue in a litigation if what is presented to the court for a decision, when decided, cannot affect the parties in anyway.” In the same case at page 288, Musdapher, JCA (as he then was) also said thus: “It is trite law that an academic, hypothetical or moot point does not deserve any judicial pronouncement. To attract judicial decision, there must be in existence a live issue or controversy between the litigants. Where there is no contest or where the result of a judicial decision will serve no purpose, it cannot be said that there exists lis within the section 6(6)(b) of the Constitution.”

— Aboki, JCA. Action Congress v INEC (2007) – CA/A/101/07

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CONCEDE A POINT WHICH IS NOT ARGUABLE

The stance of the learned Counsel for the Respondent in this respect is commendable. It is prudent to concede a point which is not a moot one. That is how to assess a counsel who knows his onions very well.

– Afolabi Fabiyi JCA. Mueller v. Mueller (2005)

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APPELLATE COURT DOES NOT INDULGE IN ACADEMIC ISSUES

It is however worthy of note that the appellant locked up the premises for over 7 years without paying any rents. When she was ejected from the premises and another tenant moved into the premises to replace her, she did not ask for a stay of execution of the order both at the Magistrate Court or at the High Court. The essence of this appeal is for this court to put her back into the property for which she has not paid any rents from July, 1991 to December, 1997. In my opinion, the sum total of the foregoing submission is an eye-opener to the fact that there is no live issue in this appeal. It is now overtaken by events and it is not physically possible to put the appellant back on the premises as it is sure that she will not even be interested in such a move having been away from the premises for a number of years. The judgment of the Magistrate Court A was delivered in November 1997, the judgment of the High Court in March 2001, while this appeal is being heard in November 2005, almost eight years after delivery of the judgment at the Magistrate Court. The hearing and determination of the appeal has now become an academic exercise. The attitude of the appellate courts is not to indulge in an academic exercise by entertainingan issue, which does not affect the merit of the appeal.

– ADEKEYE JCA. Anyafulu v. Agazie (2005)

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WHEN IS AN ISSUE HYPOTHETICAL

The question learned Counsel to the appellant has invited us to decide is whether the appeal against the ruling of the trial Judge’s rejection of evidence in the pending trial is a hypothetical issue. Is there a live controversy between the parties requiring determination by the court? Is the determination of the civil rights and obligations of neither of the parties not in issue? The question whether the point being litigated on appeal is a hypothetical or moot issue will be determined by the answer.

— A.G. Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Saraki v. Kotoye (1992) – S.C. 250/1991

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