A Judge with little or no adequate knowledge of law is better than a corrupt Judge.

 

Makarfi v. Poroye [2017] 10 NWLR (Pt. 1574) 419 at 440-441, paras. G-D, per Saulawa, JCA:

“…Instructively, implicit in the judicial oath subscribed to by all of us judicial officers, fundamentally requires a total commitment to the rule of law, to the dispensation of justice according to law, without fear and favour, affection or ill-will, honestly, faithfully, and according to the Constitution and the laws made pursuant thereto. Such judicial oath equally demands that a judicial officer should not allow himself to be influenced by any extraneous or subterranean consideration whatsoever. As aptly postulated by the Hon. Justice M.M.A. Akanbi, (PCA Emeritus): “Let me say that while a Judge with little or no adequate knowledge of law, may be considered a nuisance, and his lack of understanding and appreciation of the law may constitute an obstacle in the path of justice, yet he is still more tolerable than a CORRUPT JUDGE. For a corrupt Judge is not only a dangerous obstacle, he is an anathema and a DISGRACE to the profession or the institution which he does not deserve to belong.” See M.M.A. Akanbi (PCA Emeritus): The Judiciary and the Challenges of Justice, 1996 at 36.”

Bidding for justice

Blogger’s Note:

What inspired the above notable pronouncement was the decision of Abang j., of the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, which was successfully appealed against by the Appellants. In the case, the 1st-9th Respondents had dragged Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) (10th and 11th Respondents respectively) to the Federal High Court vide an Originating Summons seeking, among other reliefs, to be recognized by INEC exclusively as the authentic States Executive leaders of the PDP in the South West Zone of Nigeria (that is, Ekiti, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Oyo and Lagos States) as against the faction of the party led by the Appellants. Although the 1st-9th Respondents made several references to the Appellants in their supporting Affidavit to the Summons, they however failed to join the Appellants to the suit. Continue reading A Judge with little or no adequate knowledge of law is better than a corrupt Judge.

Issue of candidate qualification is a pre-election matter as well as a post-election matter.

 

Dickson v. Sylva [2017] 10 NWLR (Pt. 1573) 299 at 341-342, paras. B-C, per Sanusi, JSC:

“As rightly conceded by the learned silk for the appellant, issue of qualification is a pre-election matter as well as a post election matter. Thus, the tribunal, the Court of Appeal and indeed this court can take cognizance of it. As could be seen from the wordings of section 138(1)(a) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), issue of qualification of a candidate to contest an election could be a ground in an election petition to question election of a declared winner. Such a ground could be fought both at the tribunal as well as at the normal or conventional High Courts as both the tribunal and High Courts have jurisdiction. This court however held in the case of Dangana v. Usman (2013) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1349) 50 at 89 that where an aggrieved candidate or party decides to lodge his or its complaint/suit in the High Court, then he can continue to pursue his grievance up to this apex court which is obviously his final destination or bus stop. But if such candidate chooses to lodge his complaint at the election tribunal, if it is on National or State Assembly election, then the [final] bus stop is the Court of Appeal. In view of the provisions of section 246(3) of the 1999 Constitution. The choice therefore remains with the candidate.”

Henry Seriake Dickson

Photo Credit: Pulse.

Blogger’s Note:

The position of the Supreme Court as stated above is quite explicit.

One important lesson we learnt from the case is that the case presents us with what clearly appears to be an exception. The facts of the case (earlier summarized here in a case involving both parties) are that the Appellant contested an election into the office of the Governor of Bayelsa State and was declared and returned as the winner. The 1st and 2nd Respondents challenged the Appellant’s return at the Election Tribunal.  In his reply to the Petition, the Appellant raised the issue of the qualification of the 1st Respondent to contest the election and his competence to present the Petition on the ground that, in line with section 182(b) of the Constitution, the 1st Respondent had been elected to the office of the Governor of Bayelsa State on two previous occasions and had occupied the seat for more than five years.

The Tribunal dismissed the 1st and 2nd Respondents’ Petition and upheld the return of the Appellant. However, the Tribunal failed to determine the objection raised by the Appellant concerning the qualification of the 1st Respondent to contest the election and his competence to file the Petition.

Dissatisfied,  the 1st and 2nd Respondents appealed and the Appellant also cross-appealed against the part of the Tribunal’s Judgment which failed to determine the Appellant’s objection. The Court of Appeal dismissed both the appeal and cross-appeal.

The Appellant appealed to the Supreme Court contending that the issue of qualification of a candidate to contest an election is both a pre-election and post election matter which is cognisable by the Tribunal, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. He relied on the case of Dangana v. Usman (supra). Continue reading Issue of candidate qualification is a pre-election matter as well as a post-election matter.

A “Memorandum of Understanding” or “Letter of Intent” is not a binding contract.

 

BPS Construction & Engineering Co. Ltd. v. F.C.D.A. [2017] 10 NWLR (Pt. 1572) 1 at 28, paras. G-H, per Kekere-Ekun, JSC:

“…It is clear that a memorandum of understanding or letter of intent, merely sets down in writing what the parties intend will eventually form the basis of a formal contract between them. It speaks to the future happening of a more formal relationship between the parties and the steps each party needs to take to bring that intention to reality… Notwithstanding the signing of a memorandum of understanding, the parties thereto are not precluded from entering into negotiations with a third party on the same subject matter…”

Letter of intent is not binding

Blogger’s Note:

In reaching the above conclusion, the Supreme Court relied on the definition of a “memorandum of understanding” (MOU) as contained in Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th edition, page 1006 where the phrase was defined in terms of a “letter of intent”, which phrase was defined at page 924 as follows: “A written statement detailing the preliminary understanding of parties who plan to enter into a contract or some other agreement: A letter of intent is not meant to be binding and does not hinder the parties from bargaining with a third party. Business people typically mean not to be bound by a letter of intent and courts ordinarily do not enforce one, but courts occasionally find that a commitment has been made.” Continue reading A “Memorandum of Understanding” or “Letter of Intent” is not a binding contract.

It is erroneous to assume that people who communicate in Pidgin English do not understand proper or Queen’s English.

 

Opara v. Attorney-General of the Federation [2017] 9 NWLR (Pt. 1569) 61 at 109, paras. A-E, per Kekere-Ekun, JSC:

“On the contention that the appellant who speaks Pidgin English does not understand English Language, this court in a recent decision in Olanipekun v. The State (2016) LPELR-40440 (SC) @ 8-9, D-A; (2016) 13 NWLR (Pt. 1528) 100 at p. 118, paras. C-D, per Aka’ahs, JSC had this to say:

“It is erroneous to assume that people who communicate in Pidgin English do not understand proper or Queen’s English especially in Nigeria. The use of Pidgin English allows for free expression without minding the grammar which is usually employed in proper English. Consequently, a statement which was said have been recorded in Pidgin does not require translation into proper English and any statement made in Pidgin can be recorded in proper English.”

The reasoning above is equally applicable in the circumstances of this case. The fact that the appellant speaks Pidgin English does not mean she cannot understand proper or “Queen’s English”. I also venture to say that the fact that a person cannot read or write does not mean he/she cannot understand English when addressed in that language.”

valid arraignment

Blogger’s Note:

What happened in the above case was that the Appellant was charged on a 9 count charge of procurement of persons for prostitution, forceful or deceitful inducement of persons and confinement or detention of persons against their will, contrary to and punishable under sections 15(a), 19(b) and (c) respectfully of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003 (as amended). Continue reading It is erroneous to assume that people who communicate in Pidgin English do not understand proper or Queen’s English.

An application to set aside an arbitral award is not in the nature of an appeal against the award.

 

NITEL Ltd. v. Okeke [2017] 9 NWLR (Pt. 1571) 439 at 473, paras. A-C; 474, paras. A-B, per Kekere-Ekun, JSC:

“At the outset, I must say that learned counsel for the respondent correctly stated the position of the law that arbitration proceedings are sui generis. An application to set aside an arbitral award is not in the nature of an appeal against the award. An arbitral award is regarded as a final and conclusive judgment on all matters referred and the courts are enjoined, as far as possible, to uphold and enforce arbitral awards, having regard to the fact that it is a model of dispute resolution voluntarily agreed upon by the parties.”

“To underscore the fact that the court does not sit on appeal over an arbitral award, it is to be noted that even where the court finds merit in an application to set aside an award, its jurisdiction is limited to setting aside the award and remitting it to the arbitrator for reconsideration. The court has no jurisdiction to determine the merits of the matter which is the subject of the arbitration proceedings. See A. Savoia Ltd. v. Sonubi [2000] 12 NWLR (Pt. 682) 539. In the instant appeal, I observe that a significant portion of the appellant’s brief is devoted to challenging the award. This is not proper.”

Blogger’s Note:

In other words, the decision of an arbitrator is final. However, there are circumstances under which the arbitral award may be challenged for the purpose of being set aside by the court – such as where the arbitrator has misconducted himself, where the arbitral proceedings or award was improperly procured or where the award contains decisions on matters which are beyond the scope of the submission to arbitration. See Sections 29(2) and 30(1) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, Cap. A18, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. Notwithstanding, the salient point being made is that the jurisdiction of the court to set aside an award is not an appellate jurisdiction, as clearly explained by the learned Justice of the Supreme Court quoted above. Continue reading An application to set aside an arbitral award is not in the nature of an appeal against the award.