This is an appeal against the affirmation of the conviction and sentence to death by hanging of the Appellant by the Court of Appeal; Ibadan Division. The learned trial judge in his judgment agreed with the prosecution counsel that the charge of murder had been proved against the Appellant beyond reasonable doubt. He did not consider the defence of insanity. The Court of Appeal in its judgment also affirmed the conviction and sentence imposed on the Appellant by the trial Court and consequently dismissed the Appellant’s appeal. Dissatisfied, the Appellant has further appealed to this Court against the judgment of the Court of Appeal.
Whether there is sufficient evidence on record to sustain a finding of insanity and an acquittal of the Appellant.
“Any suggestion or finding that the Appellant possess certain traits such as irascibility, irritability, eccentricity, and quarrelsomeness, it is contended, would amount to speculation and this court cannot do that as it leads to injustice”. PER GALADIMA JSC
“A court has a sacred duty to consider all defences available to an accused charged with murder, whether or not such defences are specifically put up by him”. PER GALADIMA JSC
“An accused person who has put up defence of insanity must show that he is suffering either from mental disease or from natural infirmity”. PER GALADIMA JSC
“Thus the court may accept evidence of insanity from family history; evidence of conduct of accused immediately preceding the killing and finding of medical officer who examined the accused after the event if that finding is consistent with earlier evidence of insanity. PER GALADIMA JSC
“The interpretation of the above is that every person (children excluded) are presumed to be sane at the time of commission of the act (in this case murder). The onus is on the accused/appellant to prove that he was insane at the time be committed the offence. The burden of proof of the defence of insanity is on the accused person. PER RHODES – VIVOUR JSC
“A conviction stands only if there is proof beyond reasonable doubt. PER NGWUTA JSC
“There can be no proof beyond reasonable doubt unless the mental capacity of the accused at all times material to the act or omission constituting the offence charged is established once raised or is apparent from materials before the trial Court. PER NGWUTA JSC
“Absence of motive, by itself, is not a sufficient ground to infer mania but where there is evidence indicative of insanity rather than the opposite, the absence of motive, as in this case, ought to be considered material to the determination of the mental capacity of the appellant at the material time. PER NGWUTA JSC
“Murder is an intimate act predicated on a simple motive of passion, be it of hatred, love or greed. It involves a degree of control and calculation and it is doubtful that at the material time the appellant possessed either or both”. PER NGWUTA JSC
“In a charge of murder, the trial court has a duty to consider all the defences raised by the evidence whether the person charged specifically put up such defences or not. This is to be done even where the defence appears weak or stupid since the life of a human being is at stake. PER OKORO JSC
“The defence of insanity can only avail the accused if he can show that he was insane at the time he committed the act”. PER OKORO JSC
Agbi v. Ogbeh (2006) 11NWLR (pt.990) 65 at 135
Augustine Onuchukwu & Anor v. The State (1998) 4 NWLR (Pt. 547) 576
Ejinima V State (1991) 6 NWLR (Pt 200) 627.
Karimu v. The State (supra) p.140.
Olalomi Ind. Ltd v. NIDB Ltd (2009) 12 NWLR (pt.1167) 266 at 303-304.
R v. Ashigifuwo (1948) 12 WACA 389.
R v. Inyang (1946) 19 WACA 5;
S. Selvanayagan v. R.1951 AC p.83.
Ukadike v. State (1973) 6 SC.14
Uwa Ehinya v. State (2005) 9NWLR (pt. 930) 227 at 248
MICHAEL AIYEOLA V RAMOTA YEKINI PEDRO
LEGALPEDIA ELECTRONIC CITATION: LERSC.102/2004
AREAS OF LAW: LAND LAW-DECLARATION OF TITLE TO LAND; EVIDENCE- PLEADING; MISTAKE OF COURT
SUMMARY OF FACTS
The Respondent as Plaintiff at the trial High Court of Lagos commenced an action against the Appellant as Defendant through a writ of summons and statement of claim claiming a declaration as to statutory right of occupancy in respect of the piece of land and building thereon, an Order for possession of the said piece of land and building thereon and Perpetual Injunction restraining the Defendant from interfering with Plaintiff’s right and interest in or over the property. At the conclusion of the trial and the final addresses of counsel to the respective parties, the learned trial judge dismissed the case of the Plaintiff on the ground that the Plaintiff failed to prove the claims. The Plaintiff as Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal being dissatisfied with the decision of the trial High Court. The lower Court allowed the appeal and set aside the decision of the trial Court. Dissatisfied, the Defendant filed this appeal.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION
Whether Respondent clearly ascertained the identity of the land in dispute and if the Court of Appeal was right to use the Survey Plan, Exhibit ‘B’ solely to resolve the issue of the identity of the land
Whether the Respondent proved her case to the standard required by law
DECLARATION OF TITLE TO LAND – DUTY OF PLAINTIFF TO PRODUCE SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE
“In a claim for declaration of title to land, the plaintiff must produce sufficient evidence to ascertain the certainty or definiteness of the exact boundary of the land claimed to be entitled to the grant.” PER PETER-ODILI JSC
DECLARATION OF TITLE TO LAND – WHETHER FAILURE OF A PARTY TO ESTABLISH HIS CLAIM TO SOME PART OF THE LAND SHOULD RESULT IN A DISMISSAL OF HIS CLAIM
“Where a party is claiming a declaration of title to land fails to establish his claim to some part of the land that should not result in the dismissal of his claim to the other part of the land. Furthermore, where a claimant lays claim to a large parcel of land but succeeds in proving the boundaries and title to a smaller parcel of the land, he is entitled to a declaration of title in respect of the smaller part of the land originally in dispute which he had proved with certainty. This for the simple reason that a court may grant less but not more than the land in dispute.” PER PETER-ODILI JSC
DECLARATION OF TITLE TO LAND-ON WHO LIES THE ONUS OF PROOF IN A CLAIM FOR DECLARATION OF TITLE TO LAND
“The Onus of proof lies on the plaintiff who seeks a declaration of title to land and or an injunction to establish with certainty and precision and without inconsistency the area of land to which lies claim relates. The point clearly emphasized is that a declaration to title to land can only be granted in respect of land which has definite precise and accurate boundaries”. PER PETER-ODILI JSC
IDENTITY OF LAND – HOW TO DISCHARGE THE ONUS OF PROVING THE IDENTITY OF LAND
“Therefore a way to discharge the onus of proving the identity of the land in dispute by such description of the land that any surveyor acting on such description could produce an accurate plan of the land in dispute. Thus, the acid test over the years is whether a surveyor, taking the record, could produce a plan showing accurately the land to which title has been given, Another way and I dare say a better and more reliable way of establishing the identity and precise extent of a piece or parcel of land in dispute is by filing an accurate Survey Plan which reflects all the features on such land and showing clearly the boundaries thereof.” PER PETER-ODILI JSC
DECLARATION OF TITLE TO LAND-WHETHER THE NAME GIVEN TO A PIECE OF LAND IS IMPORTANT WHERE THE IDENTITY OF THE LAND IS CERTAIN
“When the identity of the land is certain, the name given to any particular piece of land is of no moment and of little assistance or value in ascertaining the precise boundaries or features of the land”. PER PETER-ODILI JSC
DECLARATION OF TITLE- WHEN A SURVEY PLAN CAN BE DISPENSED WITH IN A CLAIM FOR DECLARATION OF TITLE
“Where there is no difficulty in identifying the extent of the land in dispute or the parties have agreed that an identifiable piece of land is in dispute between them, even if they refer to that land by different names, a declaration of title to land can be made without a plan thereof. Therefore, in a claim for declaration title, once there are some descriptions in the evidence which make a disputed land ascertainable the identity of the land is proved and a grant can be made with or without a survey plan.” PER PETER-ODILI JSC
CONVEYANCE- WHETHER PROVE OF TITLE OF THE VENDOR IS NECESSARY WHERE A PARTY RELIES ON AND PROVES CONVEYANCE AS HIS ROOT OF TITLE
“When a plaintiff in a land case relied on and proves a conveyance as his root of title, he does not need to go beyond his vendor and then proceed to prove that vendor’s title as well. Unless the vendor’s title has become an issue in the case, parties to a land case which titles are rooted in Deeds of Conveyance need not plead or prove the title of their vendors.” PER PETER-ODILI JSC
EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE – ATTITUDE OF APPELLATE COURT IN THE EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE BY A TRIAL COURT
“The attitude of the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court as the case may be, in respect of evaluation of evidence of a trial court is that in deciding whether or not a trial court properly evaluated the evidence, the essential focus should be on whether the trial court made proper findings and reached the correct judgment upon facts before it. It is not the method or approach that necessarily determines this. Thus, so long as a trial court does not arrive at its judgment merely by considering the case of one party before considering the case of the other, its judgment if right will not be set aside simply on the method of assessment of the evidence or approach to the entire case it may have adopted.” PER PETER-ODILI JSC
SALE OF FAMILY LAND-WHEN CAN THE SALE OF FAMILY LAND BE VALID OR VOID AB INITIO
“It is essential to the validity of sale of family land that the head of family must join in the conveyance and the principal members of the family must consent to the transaction. Such a combination of parties to the conveyance of family land by the head of family and the principal members of the family is unimpeachable. Any sale or disposition purporting to transfer family land without these essential customary elements is void ab initio”. PER PETER-ODILI JSC
SALE OF FAMILY LAND- WHEN CAN THE SALE OF A FAMILY LAND BE VOIDABLE
“A sale of family land by the head of family is only voidable where it is made without the concurrence of principal members of the family. Such a sale is not void ab initio but merely voidable and the family can set aside such a sale if the other members act timeously.” PER PETER-ODILI JSC
DECLARATION OF TITLE TO LAND-DUTY OF PARTIES AND THE COURT IN A CLAIM FOR DECLARATION OF TITLE
“A court does not make declarations of title either on mere admission in pleadings or in default of defence without hearing appropriate evidence and being satisfied with such evidence. It is for that reason that the party laying claims satisfy the court by evidence and not by an admission in the pleadings of the defendant supporting this entitlement to the declaration sought. The fact is not lost in mind that the court still has discretion of granting or not granting the declaration, however, the success of such a claimant in action depends entirely on the strength of his own case and not on the chance thing of the weakness of the defence.” PER PETER-ODILI JSC
PLEADING- WHETHER CAN BE CONSTRUED AS EVIDENCE- DUTY OF A PARTY WITH RESPECT TO HIS PLEADINGS
“Pleading is not synonymous with evidence and so cannot be construed as such in the determination of the merit or otherwise of a case. Thus a party who seeks judgment in his favour is required by law to produce adequate credible evidence in support of his pleadings and where there is none, then the averments in the pleading are deemed abandoned. The same principle of law goes for whatever defence a defendant seeks to rely on in the process of demolishing the case against him.” PER PETER-ODILI JSC
PROOF OF TITLE TO LAND – WAYS OF PROVING TITLE TO LAND
“These methods or ways are thus:-
a. By traditional history or evidence; or
b. By documents of title; or
c. By various acts of ownership numerous and positive, and extending over a length of time as to warrant the ownership; or
d. By acts of long enjoyment and possession of the land; and
e. By proof of possession of adjacent land in circumstances which render it probable that the owner of such adjacent land would in addition be the owners of the land in dispute.
The practice in declaration of title or a dispute to such declaration is constant and the law is that a party claiming title to land must show that he acquired his title in any one of the five ways or methods above stated.” PER PETER-ODILI JSC
TITLE TO LAND-DUTY OF A PLAINTIFF CLAIMING TITLE TO LAND
“It is the duty of a plaintiff claiming title to land to show how he or his predecessor-in-title acquired title in one of the five ways or methods recognized in proving title to land.” PERPETER-ODILI JSC
TITLE TO LAND- DUTY OF THE COURT WHERE A PARTY HAS SATISFIED THE COURT AS TO HIS TITLE TO THE LAND IN DISPUTE
“Where a party has satisfied the court as to his title to land in dispute, the court need not inquire into the title of his predecessor-in-title. The party does not need to prove the title of his vendor except where it has become an issue.” PER PETER-ODILI JSC
RE-OPENING OF ISSUES OF FACT-WHEN IS AN APPELLATE COURT IS ALLOWED TO RE-OPEN ISSUES OF FACTS
“On appeal, there are rules of practice and one of the cardinal rules is that an appellate court should not re-open issues of fact unless there is a strong basis for that, such as where the fact supposedly laid to rest is shown to be perverse, illegal or not a proper exercise of judicial discretion. PER PETER-ODILI JSC
POSSESSION- CONDITION WHERE A COURT CAN ASCRIBE POSSESSION TO A PARTY
“When the issue as in this case is which of two claimants has a better right of possession to and/or occupation of a piece or parcel of land in dispute, the law will ascribe such possession and/or occupation to the person who proves a better title thereto.” PER PETER-ODILI JSC
DECLARATION OF TITLE -EVIDENCE REQUIRED TO BE PRODUCED BY THE PLAINTIFF IN A CLAIM FOR DECLARATION OF TITLE TO LAND
“The law is indeed trite that in a claim such as the one at hand for declaration of title to the property in dispute, the Plaintiff must produce sufficient evidence to ascertain the definite and precise boundary of land claimed.” PER MOHAMMED JCA
IDENTITY OF LAND- ON WHO LIES THE BURDEN OF PROOF WHERE DISPUTE IS AS TO THE IDENTITY OF THE LAND
“Where there is a dispute as to the identity of the land in dispute, the burden is on the party claiming title to establish the identity by specific and unequivocal evidence as to its boundaries. SEE: AREMU VS ADETORO (20071 16 NWLR (PT.10601 244: (2007) 7 SC (PT.IIL 1; ODESANYA VS EWEDEMI (19621 1 ALL NLR 320. This may be done in either of two ways. The claimant may give an oral description of the land sufficient to make it ascertainable.SEE: AREMU VS ADETORO (SUPRAL: AWERE VS LASOIU (19751 NMLR 100: IDEHAN VS OSEMWENKHAE (19971 10 NWLR (PT.525) 358; or he may file a survey plan. A survey plan is not required in every case. Where an oral description is relied upon, the test is whether a surveyor can, from the record, produce an accurate plan of such land.” PER KEKERE-EKUN JSC
DECLARATION OF TITLE – GRANT OF A DECLARATION OF TITLE WHERE THERE IS NO DIFFICULTY IN IDENTIFYING THE LAND IN DISPUTE
“It is also the law that once there is no difficulty in identifying the land in dispute, a declaration of title may be made without it being based on any plan whatsoever.” PER KEKERE-EKUN JSC
IDENTITY OF LAND- EFFECT OF WHERE PARTIES ARE AD IDEM ON THE IDENTITY OF LAND
“The law is well settled that where the parties, by the evidence adduced both oral and documentary are ad idem on the identity of the land in dispute, the fact that different names are ascribed to it or that the area where it is located is called different names is not fatal to the case of the party claiming.” PER KEKERE-EKUN JSC
MISTAKES OF THE COURT-WHETHER EVERY MISTAKE OF COURT WILL LEAD TO THE JUDGMENT BEING OVERTURNED ON APPEAL
“It is not every mistake by a court that will lead to its judgment being overturned on appeal.” PER KEKERE-EKUN JSC
Adedibu V Makanjuola 10 WACA 33
Adenle Vs Olude (20021 9 – 10 SC 124
Adimora V Aiufo (1988) 3 NWLR (PT. 80 1
Ajibulu V Ajayi (2004) 11 NWLR (PT. 885) 458
Akinhanmi V Daniel (1977) 6 SC 125
Akinhanmi Vs Daniel (19971 6 SC 125:
Arabambi V Advance Bevereges Ind. Ltd (2005) 19 NWLR (PT. 959) 1 AT 28
Arabe V Asanlu (1980) 5-7 SC 78 AT 85- 87
Aro Vs Obaloro (19681 NMLR 238
Aromire V Awoyemi (1972) 1 ALL NLR (PT.L) 10 NWLR (PT. 721) 468
Baioden Vs Enock Iromwanimu & Anr (19951 SCNJ 205
Baruwa V Ogunsola (1938) 4 WACA 159
Bello V Eweka (1981) 1 SC 101
City Property Dev. Ltd V A. G. Lagos State (1976 1 SC 71
Damini & Anor. Vs Abraham & Ors. (2001) 16 NWLR FPT,7381 20; (20011 6 SC 154
Diamond Bank Ltd. Vs Partnership Investment Co. Ltd. & Anor. (2009) 18 NWLR (PT.11721 67
Dosunmu V Joto (1987) 2 NSCC 1182 SC
Ekpendu V Erika (1959) SCNLR 186)
Eletiko V Aroyewuni (1959) SCNLR 308
Emegokwue V Okadigbo (1973) NMLR 192
Emiri V Imieyeh (1999) 4 NWLR (PT. 599) 442 AT 463 & 465
Esangbedo V The State (1989) 7 SC (PT. 1) 36 AT 43 – 44
Ezeokeke V Uga (1962) 2 SCNLR 197
Ezeudu V Obiagwu (1986) NWLR (PT. 21) 208
Fasoro V Beyioku (1988) 2 NWLR (PT. 76) 263
Fayehun V Fadoju (2000) 6 NWLR (PT. 661) 390 SC
Ibuluye V Dikko (1978) 6 SC 97
Imah V Okgbe (1993) 9 NWLR (PT. 316) 159
Jadesinmi V Okotie-Eboh & Ors (1989) 4 NWLR (PT. 113) AT 115
Kodilnye V Odu (1935) 2 WACA 336
Kwadzo V Adjei (1944) 10 WACA 274
Lukan V Ogunsusi (1972) 5 SC 40
Makanjuola V Balogun (1989) 3 NWLR PT. 108) 192
Motunwase V Sorungbe (1988) 4 NWLR (PT. 92) 90
Ojoh V Kamaly & Ors (2005) 2 SC (PT. 11) 1 AT 24
Okedare V Adebara (1994) 6 NWLR (PT. 349) 157 AT 173 – 174 SC
Olohunde V Adeyeju (2000) 10 NWLR (PT. 676) 562
Olorunfemi V Asho (2000) 2 NWLR (PT. 642) 143
Olusanmi V Oshasona (1992) 6 NWLR (PT. 245) 22 AT 29
Onyema Oke Vs Amos Eke (1982) 12 SC 218
Rotimi V Macregor (1974) 1 ALL NLR (PT. 11) 325
Salami Vs Oke (19871 4 NWLR (PT.631 1
Sogunle V Akerele (1967) NMLR 58
Solomon V Mogaji (1982) 11 SC 1
Tanko Vs The State (20091 4 NWLR (PT.11311 430
Woluchem V Gudi (1981) 5 SC 291
STATUTES REFERRED TO:
CHIEF JAMES OLUSEYI OLONADE & ANOR VS H. BABATUNDE SOWEMIMO
LEGALPEDIA ELECTRONIC CITATION: LERSC. 265/2003
AREAS OF LAW- CUSTOMARY TENANCY; GROUND OF APPEAL; REVERSAL OF JUDGMENT; EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE
SUMMARY OF FACT
The Appellants as Plaintiffs at the High Court sued the Respondent/Defendant through an amended statement of claim seeking for the following relief, a declaration of title to land, damages and an injunction restraining the Respondent/ Defendant from trespass to the said land. The Respondent/ Defendant also filed a counter claim for a declaration of title, damages, perpetual injunction in respect of the disputed land which the Appellants/ Plaintiffs laid claim on. At the hearing, witnesses testified with documents and exhibits tendered in Court. At the end of the trial, the High Court judge dismissed the suit brought by the Appellants /Plaintiffs. Not satisfied, the Appellants/ Plaintiffs appealed to the Court of Appeal which affirmed the decision of the High Court. Further dissatisfied, the Appellants /Plaintiffs further appealed to the Supreme Court.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION
Whether the Justices of the Court of Appeal were not wrong or committed misdirection of law when they confirmed the granting of the Respondent’s counter-claim based on two contradictory roots of his title to the land in dispute
Whether the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal were not wrong in confirming the judgment of the trial court based on acts of possession as opposed to the unproved root of title as pleaded.
Whether the Justices of Appeal (sic) were not wrong in their holding that although the learned trial judge directed the visitation to the locus-in-quo, the failure to eventually visit the locus in quo before judgment did not occasion miscarriage of justice
GROUND OF APPEAL – A GROUND OF APPEAL MUST RELATE TO THE JUDGMENT OF THE LOWER COURT – EFFECT OF A COMPLAINT WHICH DOES NOT FLOW FROM THE DECISION APPEALED AGAINST
“It is settled principle of Law that a ground of appeal must arise, flow from or relate to the judgment of the court appealed from. Any complaint that does not flow from the decision appealed against cannot legitimately be entertained by this Court.” PER MUHAMMAD JSC.
REVERSAL OF JUDGMENT- WHETHER EVERY ERROR OF LAW COMMITTED BY A TRIAL OR APPELLATE COURT JUSTIFIES THE REVERSAL OF THE JUDGMENT ON APPEAL
“It is a trite principle that it is not every error of law that is committed by a trial or appellate court that justifies the reversal of the particular court’s judgment on appeal. For an appellant to secure the reversal of the judgment he appeals against, beyond establishing the error he hinges his complaint upon, he must go the extra mile of establishing that the error complained of andestablished has substantially affected the result of the decision and/or occasioned miscarriage of Justice. Thus where inspite of the error made out by the appellant the decision appealed against would not be any different the appeal would fail. In such an instance the judgment appealed against would not be disturbed.” PER MUHAMMAD JSC.
EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE – EVALUATION EVIDENCE AND ASCRIPTION OF PROBATIVE VALUE ARE THE PRIMARY FUNCTIONS OF THE TRIAL COURT
“Evaluation of relevant and material evidence and the ascription of probative value to such evidence are the primary functions of the trial court which saw, heard and assessed the witnesses as they testified. Where the trial court unquestionably evaluates the evidence and justifiably appraises the facts, as it has been manifestly shown to have been done in the instant case, it is not the business of the lower court, an appellate court, to substitute its own views for the views of the trial court. The application of this trite principle by the lower court cannot, certainly, be a basis for the reversal of the court’s decision.” PER DATTIJO MUHAMMAD JSC.
CONCURRENT FINDINGS OF FACTS- CIRCUMSTANCES THAT CAN LEAD TO THE DISTURBANCE OF THE CONCURRENT FINDINGS OF FACT BY THE LOWER COURTS
“It is not the practice of this court to disturb the concurrent findings of fact by the two lower courts. This is because it is presumed that the conclusions reached by the trial court, which had the unique opportunity of seeing and hearing the witnesses testify on issues of fact, are presumed to be correct.
The person seeking to upset the judgment on facts must displace the presumption. He must be able to satisfy this court that the findings are perverse or that some miscarriage of justice has occurred or that there has been a violation of some principle of law or of procedure.” PERKEKERE-EKUN JSC.
A.G. Leventis Nig Plc V. Chief Christian Akpu (2007) 6 SCNJ 242,
Balogun & Ors. Vs Agboola (1974) 1 ALL NLR (Pt.2) 66
Cameroon Airlines Vs Otutuizu (2011) 1 – 2 SC (Pt.III) 200
Chami Vs UBA Plc (2010) 6 NWLR (Pt.11911 494 SC.
Chief Ikedi Ohakim & anor V. Chief Martin Agbaso & 4 ors (2010) 6-7 SC 85.
Eholor Vs Osayande (1992) 7 SCNJ 217: (1992) 6 NWLR (Pt.249) 524
Magaji v. Odofin (1978) 4 SC 91
Oguntayo V. Adelaja & others (2009) 6-7 SC (Pt 111) 91
Ojokolobo v. Alamu (1998) 9 NWLR (pt 565) 226
Okoya v. Santili (1994) 4 N.W.L.R. (Pt. 338) 256 at 562.
Qqoala Vs The State (1991) 2 NWLR (Pt.175) 509:
Sha v. Kwau (2000) 5 SC 178.
Toudus Services Nig Ltd v. Taisei (W.A) Ltd (2006) 6 SC 200
Veepee IND Ltd v. COCA IND Ltd (2008) 4 – 5 SC (pt 3) 116.
Yadis (Nig.) Ltd. Vs G.N.LC, Ltd. (20071 14 NWLR (Pt.1055) 584: (20071 4-5 SC 236;
STATUTES REFERRED TO:
DR. UMAR ARDO VS ADMIRAL MAURTALA NYAKO (RTD) & 2 ORS
LEGALPEDIA ELECTRONIC CITATION: LERSC. 135/2013
AREAS OF LAW – PRE-ELECTION MATTER; INTERPRETATION OF STATUTES; JUDICIAL PRECEDENT
SUMMARY OF FACTS
The Appellant herein indicated interest in the gubernatorial primary election in Adamawa State which was held on 21st October, 2011. Although he purchased, completed and submitted the Expression of interest form, he however did not take part in the primary election. After the primary, which the 1st Respondent won, the Appellant (as Plaintiff) filed a suit at the Federal High Court challenging the outcome of the exercise as invalid and void. The 1st Respondent filed a preliminary objection challenging the locus of the Appellant and the jurisdiction of the trial court that the suit is incompetent. The learned trial judge, after hearing argument on the issue, held that the Appellant was not an aspirant at the primary election and that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit. Not satisfied with the judgment of the learned trial judge, the Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court that the Appellant was not an aspirant and affirmed the decision of the learned trial judge. The Appellant has again appealed to this court.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION
Whether having regard to the definition of who is an “Aspirant” in Section 156 of the Electoral Act (as amended) the decision of the Supreme Court in:
(a) Lado VS. CPC (2012) ALL FWLR at page 263 pars G – H to 624 para. A.
(b) Uzodinma Vs. Izunaso (No. 2) (2011) 17 NWLR (pt 1275) 30 at 59 paragraphs H to page 60 paragraph A – E.
© Ikechi Eminike V. Peoples Democratic Party & Ors (2012) 12 NWLR (pt. 1315) page 556.
(d) Peoples Democratic Party V. Timipre Sylva & 2 Ors/Timipre Sylva V. PDP & 2 Ors (2012) 13 NWLR (pt. 1316) 85 at 126 paras. A – B and 147.
(e) Emeka V. Okadigbo & 4 Ors (2012) 18 NWLR (pt. 1331)55 at 83.
Is ( sic) not contrary to statutory definition of the word which has occasioned hardship and miscarriage of justice against the Appellant as a person aspiring or striving or seeking to contest election to hold political office and so should be revisited or reversed?
Whether having regard to Section 87 (9) of the Electoral Act, the learned Justices of the Lower Courts were not in error when they held that complaints arising from the selection of Ward Delegates or any of the complaints which formed the basis of the Appellant’s claim at the trial court are not justiciable?
INTER PARTY DISPUTES-JURISDICTION OF THE COURTS IN INTER PARTY DISPUTES
“The courts have consistently declined to entertain jurisdiction in inter party disputes concerning the candidate a political party chooses to sponsor for an election. The courts cannot therefore compel a political party to sponsor one candidate in preference for another candidate of the self – same party. The reason being, that no court can manage the political party for the members thereof.” PER AKA’AHS, JSC
CANDIDATE OF A POLITICAL PARTY- WHETHER THE DETERMINATION OF THE ISSUE OF WHO SHOULD BE A CANDIDATE OF A POLITICAL PARTY IS JUSTICIABLE IN A COURT OF LAW
“The issue of who should be a candidate of a given political party at any election is clearly a political one to be determined by the rules and constitution of the said party. It is thus a domestic issue and not such as would be justiciable in a court of law.” PER AKA’AHS, JSC
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY-POWER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
“The power donated to the National Assembly in Section 228 (a) of the Constitution is to make laws which provides guidelines and rules to ensure internal democracy within political parties and this includes making laws for the conduct of party primaries, party congresses and party conventions.
NOMINATION OF CANDIDATES – ON WHO RESIDES THE POWER TO NOMINATE CANDIDATES FOR ELECTION
The power to nominate candidates for election still resides with the political parties but the procedure for the nomination is not left to the whims and caprices of party officials. The parties must hold either direct or indirect primaries for the aspirants to all elective positions.” PER AKA’AHS, JSC
POLITICAL PARTY- REQUIREMENT OF LENGTH OF NOTICE GIVEN BY A POLITICAL PARTY TO THE INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION
“Furthermore a registered political party is required to give the Independent National Electoral Commission at least 21 days notice of any convention, congress, conference or meeting convened for the purpose of electing members of its executive committees, other governing bodies or nominating candidates for any of the elective offices specified under the Electoral Act and the commission may, with or without prior notice to the political party, monitor and attend any convention, congress, conference or meeting which is convened by a political party for the purpose of-
(a) electing members of its executive committees or other governing bodies;
(b) nominating candidates for an election at any level; and approving a merger with any other registered political party.” PER K.B. AKA’AHS, JSC
ASPIRANT- WHO IS AN ASPIRANT
“An aspirant is not a person who merely declared an intention to participate in the primary election but somebody who fully participated in the said party primary.” PER OKORO, JSC
JUDICIAL PRECEDENTS AND STARE DECISIS – DOCTRINE OF JUDICIAL PRECEDENTS AND STARE DECISIS
“By the doctrine of judicial precedents and stare decisis, whenever the Apex court has taken a position on an issue, all lower courts are bound to follow that decision. The only window open to lower courts or parties and their counsel is to distinguish the facts of their case from the one already decided. But where the facts are similar, no party is allowed to refuse to follow a decided case merely because it is not in his favour.” PER OKORO, JSC
NOMINATION OF A CANDIDATE OF A POLITICAL PARTY – WHO CAN CHALLENGE THE NOMINATION OF A CANDIDATE OF A POLITICAL PARTY
“For a person to have locus to sue in a court of law to challenge the nomination of a candidate of a political party, the party must have conducted a primary election in the first place and the complainant must have participated in the nomination exercise and lost. It is only then that he can have the locus to challenge the result of the primary election. It is also then that the court by Section 87 (9) of the Electoral Act can have jurisdiction to entertain the matter.” PER OKORO, JSC
PRIMARY ELECTION – EFFECT OF NOT CONDUCTING A PRIMARY ELECTION IN THE NOMINATION PROCESS
“Where a party did not conduct a primary election in its nomination process, no court will have jurisdiction to entertain a complain on nomination of candidate.” PER OKORO, JSC
JUDICIAL PRECEDENT OR STARE DECISIS – PURPOSE OF THE PRINCIPLE OF JUDICIAL PRECEDENT OR STARE DECISIS
“The principle of judicial precedent or stare decisis is designed to ensure orderliness, certainty and discipline in the judicial process. The principle holds inferior courts to the Supreme Court of Nigeria bound by the previous decision(s) of the court on similar facts inthe consideration and determination of matters before them. Where the lower courts are encouraged not to follow the previous decision(s) of this court on similar facts such an encouragement is designed to promote anarchy, chaos and Judicial rascality, which is not the design or purpose of the principles of the Rules of Law.” PER ONNOGHEN, JSC
JUDICIAL PRECEDENT/STARE DECISIS – WAY OF AVOIDING THE PRINCIPLE OF JUDICIAL PRECEDENT/STARE DECISIS BY THE COURTS
“It is settled that the way opened to the courts to avoid the doctrine/principle of judicial precedent/stare decisis is by distinguishing the previous decision(s) from the facts and/or circumstances of the case under consideration.” PER ONNOGHEN, JSC
REVISITING PREVIOUS DECISIONS OF THE SUPREME COURT-PROCEDURE FOR INVITING THE COURT TO REVISIT ITS PREVIOUS DECISION FOR THE PURPOSE OF SETTING IT ASIDE
“The procedure for inviting this Court to review/revisit, for the purpose of setting same aside, its previous decision(s) have been clearly stated in Order 6 Rule 5(4) of the Supreme Court Rules, as amended as follows:- “(4) if the parties intend to invite the Court to depart from one of its own decisions, this shall be clearly stated in a separate paragraph of the brief, to which special attention shall also be restated as one of the reasons.” PER ONNOGHEN, JSC
INTERPRETATION OF STATUTES – WORDS SHOULD BE GIVEN THEIR ORDINARY MEANING WHEN THEY ARE CLEAR AND UNAMBIGUOUS
“It is settled law that in interpretation of statutes, the words used, in as much as they are clear and unambiguous, must be given their ordinary meaning, unless this would lead to absurdity or be in conflict with other provisions of the statute.” PER ONNOGHEN, JSC
WORDS DEFINED IN A STATUTES – WHERE A WORD IS DEFINED IN A STATUTE THE MEANING GIVEN TO IT MUST BE ADHERED TO
“Also settled is the principle that where a word has been defined in a statute, the meaning given to it in the definition must be adhered to in the construction of the provisions of the statute unless the contrary intention appears from the particular section or the meaning is repugnant in the context in which the definition is used.” PER ONNOGHEN, JSC
GENERAL AND SPECIAL PROVISIONS- PRIORITY OF A GENERAL AND SPECIAL PROVISION IN A SUBJECT MATTER
“It is the law that in considering situations where general and special provisions are seen to apply to a subject matter, the law takes the course which does not permit a general provision to derogate from a special provision, It follows that where a subject matter is covered by both general and special provisions, the special provision apply to it in such a way that one general provision does not derogate from its effect. The Latin Maxim is generalia specialibus non derogant. In short, a special provision is interpreted as taking away the effect of a general provision.” PER ONNOGHEN, JSC
ELECTION MATTERS-DEFINITION OF AN ASPIRANT WHO CAN INVOKE THE JURISDICTION OF THE COURT
“Under the said section 87(9) an aspirant who can invoke the jurisdiction of the court, and, as has been held in a long line of cases from this court, is the one who complains that any of the provisions of the Electoral Act and the Guidelines of a political party has not been complied with in the selection or nomination of a candidate of a political party for election.”PER ONNOGHEN, JSC
POLITICAL PARTY- LIMITATION OF THE JURISDICTION OF COURT IN PARTY AFFAIRS
“This court in a plethora of cases has said that pre-primary matters are within the domestic and internal affairs of the PDP which no court has jurisdiction to entertain. The jurisdiction of the court in party affairs is limited to where the complaint is about the conduct of the primaries for the selection/nomination of a candidate.” PER RHODES-VIVOUR, JSC
Adesokan vs. Adetunji (1994) 5 NWLR (Pt. 346) 540 at 562
Apamoa V. State (1982) 6 S.C. 47
Attorney-General of the Federation V. Guardian Newspaper Ltd. (1999) 9 NWLR (Ft. 618) 187 at 222
Dalhatu v. Rurald 2002 15 NWLR pt.845 p.310
Eioh V. Inspector-General of Police (1963) 1 All NLR 230;
Emeka vs. Okadigbo (2012) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1331) 55 at 83
Emenike vs. P.D.P. (2012) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1315) 556:
Lado vs. C.P.C. (2012) All FWLR 263:
Onuoha v. Okafor 1983 2SCNLR p.244
Peoples Democratic Party V. Timipre Sylva (2012) 13 NWLR (pt. 1316) 85
Schroder V. Major (1989) 2 NWLR (Pt. 101) 1 at 13
Uzodimma vs. Izunaso (No. 2) (2011) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1275) 30 at 59 – SO:
STATUTES REFERRED TO:
Electoral Act, 2010
Evidence Act, 2012
Supreme Court Rules
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended