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WHEN IS THERE NO LIVE ISSUE BETWEEN THE PARTIES

Dictum

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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ACADEMIC MATTERS ARE NOT FOR THE COURTS, BUT FOR FACULTIES OF LAW

My lords, in law the Court lacks jurisdiction to hear and determine matters which are merely academic or hypothetical or which due to the occurrences of certain vents had rendered such matters even if pending merely academic or hypothetical. The Court are loath to saddle themselves with the consideration of matters which though pending before them had become merely academic and therefore, of no utilitarian value to either of the parties. To embark on such exercise of the jurisdiction of the Court over matters which are no longer live and are best suited for the Faculties of Law in the several Universities scattered all over the Country, would clearly amount to nothing but sheer waste of the very precious and, if I may say scarce, judicial time. Thus, for a Court to continue to exercise its jurisdiction over matters pending before it, such matters must remain live and of utilitarian value to one or more of the parties in the matter.

– B.A. Georgewill, JCA. Ganiyu v. Oshoakpemhe & Ors. (2021) – CA/B/12A/2021

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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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WHAT IS AN ACADEMIC ISSUE

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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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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COURTS OF LAW DO NOT ENTERTAIN ACADEMIC ISSUES

The issue of applicable law was never raised or joined by the parties in the lower court. That court did not make any finding or decision on the issue or question of applicable law as far as the records of appeal show. That must be why the appellant did not file any ground of appeal against or raise a decision of the lower court on the applicable law. Since the question was not raised nor was it pronounced upon by the lower court, I consider it purely academic and not relevant to the determination of the issues raised in this appeal. The consistent attitude of the courts over the years is that it is not their function to entertain and decide such issues. See Bamgboye v. University of Ilorin (1999) 10 NWLR (Pt. 622) 290 at 26 and NICON v. Power and Industrial Engineering (1986) 1 NWLR (Pt. 14) 1 at 22. The issue of applicable law was never in doubt before the lower court and indeed in this court.

— Garba, JCA. Shona-Jason v Omega Air (2005) – CA/L/418/2000

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