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WHEN THE SUPREME COURT WILL DEPART FROM HIS EARLIER DECISION

Dictum

As departure from a decision of a court or overruling a decision of a court is a very major judicial exercise, which if done often will ruin or jeopardise the stable rules of judicial precedent, and particularly the rules of stare decisis, courts of law, even the highest court of the land, will not yield to the invitation of counsel just for the asking, in the sense that the case sought to be overruled is not in favour of the party. In asking for a case to be overruled, the party should take into account or consideration, the totality of the decision, meaning that the ratio decidendi must be considered along with the facts of the case. The party should also make a distinction, if any, in the case between a ratio decidendi and an obiter dictum. If a party’s worry is an obiter dictum, a court of law will not depart from its earlier judgment or overrule it because obiter does not ipso facto have or possess any force in the judgment. And when I say this I am not ignorant of the law that obiter dictum of this Court followed by this Court in certain instances could ripen into a ratio decidendi by frequent adoption.

— Niki Tobi, JSC. Buhari v. INEC (2008) – SC 51/2008

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APPELLATE COURT IS CONCERNED MORE WITH THE DECISION REACHED, THAN REASON FOR DECISION

As rightly, submitted by learned counsel for the respondent, an appellate Court is more concerned with whether the decision reached by the lower Court is correct and not necessarily whether a wrong reason was given for reaching a right decision. See: Arisa Vs The State (1988) 3 NWLR (Pt. 83) 386; Ojengbede vs Esan & Anor. (2001) 18 NWLR (Pt. 746) 771. If the decision is right, it will be upheld notwithstanding the fact that a wrong reason was given for the decision. It is only where the misdirection has caused the Court to come to a wrong decision that it would be material. See: Oladele & Ors Vs Aromolaran II & Ors. (1996) 6 NWLR (Pt.453) 180.

— K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun, JSC. MTN v. Corporate (2019) – SC.674/2014

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COURT OF COORDINATE JURISDICTION CANNOT SET ASIDE ANOTHER COORDINATE COURT DECISION

It needs be reiterated that a Court after the dismissal of a suit before it lacks the competence to delve into the matter any longer. The fact that the Court is being presided over by another judge of the same jurisdiction as the judge that dismissed Suit No. HOY/7/97 does not make any difference. The Court lacks the jurisdiction to re-phrase the judgment, of a Court of co-ordinate and competent jurisdiction.

– M. Peter-Odili JSC. Adegbanke v. Ojelabi (2021)

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DECISION OF THE SUPREME COURT IS FINAL

In FBN Plc v. TSA Ind. Ltd (2012) LPELR 4714 SC, this Court stated as follows: “There is no doubt that this Court does not have the power or competence or jurisdiction to consider an application to review its judgment once delivered. The Supreme Court being the final Court of Justice of Nigeria, its decision is final and cannot be altered or reviewed by any other Court or by itself except by itself on exceptional and specific circumstances.”

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A COURT OF RECORDS HAS THE INHERENT POWERS TO SET ASIDE ITS DECISION WHERE

The Supreme Court, and any other superior court of record, possesses inherent power to set aside its judgment in appropriate cases. Such circumstances include: a. When the judgment is obtained by fraud or deceit b. When the judgment is a nullity and a person affected by the order is entitled ex debito justitiae to have it set aside. c. When the court was misled into giving judgment under the mistaken belief that the parties had consented to it. d. Where judgment was given in the absence of jurisdiction. e. Where the procedure adopted was such as to deprive the decision or judgment of the character of a legitimate adjudication. See: Adegoke Motors Ltd. v. Adesanya (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt.109) 250; A.D.H. Ltd. v. Amalgamated Trustees Ltd, (2007) ALL FWLR (Pt.392) 1781 @ 1840 C – F; Alao v. A.C.B. Ltd. (2000) FWLR (Pt. 11) 1858; (2000) 9 NWLR (Pt.672) 264; Igwe v. Kalu (2002) 14 NWLR (Pt.787) 435; Madukolu v. Nkemdilim (1962) SCNLR 341; Obimonure v. Erinosho (1966) All NLR 245.

— K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun JSC. Citec v. Francis (SC.116/2011, 21 February 2014)

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WHAT IS AN INTERLOCUTORY DECISION

Omonuwa v. Oshodin & Anor (1985) 2 NWLR (Pt. 10) 924: “There is clearly no doubt that the principle established in all the above cited cases is that where the decision of the court does not finally determine the issue or issues between the parties or does not at once affect the status of the parties for whichever side the decisions is given, it is interlocutory.”

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CORRECTNESS OF DECISION IS THE FOCUS, NOT THE REASONS

Even though the learned trial Judge seemed to have rejected the respondent’s defence of acquiescence, I cannot ignore it. The lower court and this court need not agree on the reasons for arriving at the same conclusion. The focus of an appellate court is the correctness of the decision of the lower court and not the reasons given for it.

– Ogunwumiju JCA. Awure v. Iledu (2007)

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