CHIEF S. O. ADEDAYO VS P.D.P (2013)

CHIEF S. O. ADEDAYO VS P.D.P

(2013) LCN/4169(SC)

In the Supreme Court of Nigeria

Friday, April 12, 2013


Case Number: SC. 261/2012

 

JUSTICES:

WALTER SAMUEL NKANU ONNOGHEN, JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT

SULEIMAN GALADIMA, JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT

NWALI SYLVESTER NGWUTA, JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT

CLARA BATA OGUNBIYI, JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT

MARY UKAEGO PETER-ODILI, JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT

 

APPELLANT:

CHIEF S. O. ADEDAYO

 

RESPONDENT:

P.D.P

 

RATIO:

WHERE THE COURT RAISES AN ISSUE SUO MOTU IT MUST AFFORD PARTIES OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD IN RESPECT OF THE NEW ISSUE:

“A court of law is not permitted to raise an issue suo motu and proceed to determine the case before it on the issue so raised without calling on the parties or counsel representing them to address it on the said issue. It follows therefore that it is not the raising of the issue suo motu that is frowned upon by the law but the failure of the court to hear parties on the issue in question before proceeding to determine the case on the issue. Where the court fails to listen to the parties, particularly the party to be adversely affected by the decision on the issue so raised, it is said to have fallen foul of the principles of the rules of fair hearing, and such a decision is liable to be set aside.” PER ONNOGHEN JSC

EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE – DUTY OF THE APPELLATE COURT WHEN CONFRONTED WITH THE QUESTION OF PROPER EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE:

Where an appellate court is confronted with the question of proper evaluation of evidence stemming from a related ground of appeal, the duty lies on the said court to have recourse to the record with the view to ensuring that the lower court in fact acted on an available evidence. The confirmation of such evidence will incapacitate the appellate court from interference with such findings.”PER OGUNBIYI JSC

 CIRCUMSTANCES WHERE AN APPELLATE COURT WILL OVERRULE ITS PREVIOUS DECISION:

“This Court may depart from or overrule its previous decision under certain circumstances and in accordance with laid down principles of law, or given per incuriam or that it has become an instrument of injustice and so on.” PER GALADIMA JSC

 JURISDICTION OF HIGH COURTS AS REGARD ELECTION MATTERS:

‘‘In my view, the special jurisdiction granted the High Court by Section 87 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) does not derogate from the ordinary jurisdiction of the Court pursuant to which it deals with matters relating to the interpretation and application of the Constitution of political parties as was done by the trial Court.’’PER NGWUTA

WHEN AN OBITER DICTUM WILL BE BINDING AND CONSTITUTE STARE DECISIS:

“However, it is not everything stated in the decision/judgment that constitutes the stare decisis. What is binding in the previous decision as precedent is the enunciation of the reason or principle upon which the question before the court was decided. Any other thing said by way of arriving at that decision is usually referred to as obiter dicta which is not binding, though they may have persuasive efficacy. Where however, an obiter dictum is based on the ratio decidendi of the Supreme Court, it will be regarded as binding.” PER ONNOGHEN JSC

 MEANING OF THE PRINCIPLE OF STARE DECISIS:

” Stare decision et non quelamovere” therefore means, literally “To stand by what has been decided and not to disturb and unsettle things which are established”. The term stare decisis thus means to abide by former precedents where the same points come again in litigation” PER ONNOGHEN JSC

A PARTY SEEKING REDRESS IN COURT IN RESPECT OF A PARTY’S NOMINATION MUST BRING HIS CAUSE WITHIN THE PROVISION OF SECTION 87 OF THE ELECTORAL ACT 2010:

‘‘It has been decided that a party in an action founded on party nomination for elections who fails to bring himself within the provisions of Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), has no cause of action to be enforced in the courts and as such the courts will have no jurisdiction to entertain such an action, particularly as the issue as to who should be a candidate in a political party still remains a political question within the domestic jurisdiction of the political parties, and therefore not justiciable.’’PER GALADIMA, JSC

WHEN CAN AN APPELLATE COURT INTERFERE WITH FINDINGS OF THE TRIAL COURT:

‘‘Appellate court can only interfere with such findings after evaluation by the trial court, where the said finding are perverse as it is not supported by the evidence on record or is based on wrong evaluation or not based on the evidence on record or is based on wrong evaluation, or not based on the evidence led at the trial at all.’’ PER GALADIMA JSC

THE SUPREME COURT IS NOT BOUND BY THE PRINCIPLE OF JUDICIAL PRECEDENT EXCEPT IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES:

‘‘ In other words and although this court by its position is not bound by precedent, it nevertheless respects precedent which is essential for the certainty of the law that it should generally follow its previous decisions, except of course where the justice of the earlier decision is in question; the interest of justice should rightly therefore dictate otherwise. See the case of Asanya V. The State (1991) 4 SC page 40 @ 55 per Nnemeka-Agu JSC.’’PER OGUNBIYI,

 INSTANCES WHERE THE APPELLATE COURT WILL INTERFERE WITH THE FINDINGS OF THE TRIAL COURT:

Also settled is the principle of law to the effect that an appellate court can only interfere with such findings after evaluation by the trial court where the said findings are perverse, i..e. not supported by the evidence on record or is based on wrong evaluation or not based on the evidence led, at all.” See Peterside V. Oligakwe 11 NLR 41; Woluchem V. Chief Gudi (1981) 5 S.C. 291; Ebba Vs Oegodoe (1984) 4 S.C 84.” PER ONNOGHEN JSC

A COURT IS PERMITTED TO DRAW INFERENCES FROM EVIDENCE:

“In any event, a court is permitted by law to draw inferences from evidence on record such as documents – See Olorunkunle V. Adigun (2012) ALL FWLR (PT. 614) 139 at 148. Such inferences cannot be regarded as raising issues suo motu, by the court.” PER ONNOGHEN JSC

THE COURT MUST BE SATISFIED THAT ITS EARLIER DECISION IS PATENTLY WRONG BEFORE SUCH DECISION IS REVERSED

“A reversal of an earlier decision of the court can give rise to instability in the rules of judicial precedent, particularly the rules governing stare decisis, hence the court must be satisfied or convinced that the earlier decision was clearly and patently wrong.” PER ONNOGHEN JSC

RIGHTS OF CANDIDATES WHO ARE DISSATISFIED WITH THEIR POLITICAL PARTY’S CONDUCT IN THE PROCESS OF NOMINATING CANDIDATES TO SEEK REMEDY IN COURT:

‘‘It is pertinent to state that the law has in anticipation envisaged and thus provided for situations where aspirants and candidates who are dissatisfied with the conduct of their political parties in the process of nomination of candidates could seek for remedy. The caring provision is section 87(9), (10) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.’’PER OGUNBIYI

PRIMARY ELECTION – EFFECT OF PRIMARY ELECTION CONDUCTED CONTRARY TO THE PARTY’S CONSTITUTION AND THE ELECTORAL ACT:

‘‘The courts, including the Supreme Court regards any purported primary election conducted by a State Executive Committee of a political party contrary to the party constitution, Electoral Act and party guidelines, on conduct of primary elections as an illegal primary and therefore not justiciable. See Emenike v. PDP (2012) ALL FWLR (Pt. 640) 1261’’.PER ONNOGHEN JSC

 PRINCIPLES OF JUDICIAL PRECEDENTS:

“The issue as to whether or not the Supreme Court, being the final court of appeal in the land should depart from its previous decision is linked up with the principles of judicial precedents particularly the principle of stare decisis which is a principle by which a court is bound to follow decisions in previous cases otherwise known as precedent. The principles are thus interrelated. The use of precedent is an indispensable foundation upon which to decide what the law is and its application to individual cases.” PER ONNOGHEN JSC

THE DUTY OF A TRIAL COURT TO ASCRIBE PROBATIVE VALUE TO EVIDENCE:

“Ascription of probative value to evidence is a matter primarily for the trial court. Where a trial court unquestionably evaluates the evidence and appraises the facts, it is no business of the appellate court to substitute its own views of undisputed facts with the views of the trial court.”see Balogun v. Agboola (1974) 1 ALL NLR (Pt. 2) 60; Fatoyinbo v. Williams (1959) 1 FSC 87.” PER ONNOGHEN JSC

 

SULEIMAN GALADIMA, JSC (Delivering the Judgment of the Court): This is an appeal against the Judgment of the Court of Appeal llorin delivered on 5/3/2012 affirming the Judgment of the Federal High Court, llorin delivered on 7/4/2011.

The facts as laid bare by the Appellants as plaintiffs before the trial Federal High Court are simple and straightforward.. On 9/1/2011, the 1st Respondent (PDP) set up National Electoral Panel which conducted the State Congress for the election of the 1st Respondents Gubernatorial candidate for Kwara State in the April general elections. At the end of the exercise, the majority of the votes cast by the accredited delegates and the scores recorded for the aspirants were duly entered in the prescribed Form PD004/G. The name of the 3rd Respondent was thereafter forwarded to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the 1st Respondents candidate.

On 18/2/2011, the Appellants took out an Originating Summons before the Federal High Court Abuja, and the suit was later transferred to the Federal High Court, llorin. The basis of the Appellants approaching the court was that the State Executive Committee of the party being the duly recognized body for the Kwara State branch of the party its electoral process should be the recognized primary election and the result thereof. From the THREE main questions the appellants presented to the trial court for determination SIX Reliefs were sought on the following terms:

‘1, A declaration that under and by virtue of Articles 12 1(i);12. 36, 12.37 and 14.1 of the constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) the 1st defendant the Kwara State Executive Committee of the 1st defendant led by the 1st and 2nd plaintiff is the duly elected and authenticState Executive Committee of the 1st defendant in Kwara State and therefore entitled to run and manage the affairs of the 1st defendant in Kwara State.

2. A declaration that the gubernatorial primary of the 1st defendant held in llorin on 9th January, 2011 organized and concluded by the State Executive Committee of the 1st defendant led by the 1st and 2nd plaintiffs is the authentic governorship primary of the 1st defendant for the purpose of nomination and submission of names of governorship candidate to the 3rd defendant.

3. A declaration that the 3rd plaintiff is the duly elected and authentic governorship candidate having won the governorship primary of the 1st defendant held on 9th January, 2011 and he is the only person entitled to have his name accepted and submitted to the 3rd defendant as the 1st defendants governorship candidate for Kwara State for the forthcoming April 2011 governorship election.

4. An order of the court restraining the 1st and 2nd defendants from recognizing adopting and or accepting or submitting or sending to the 3rd defendant the name of the 4th defendant or any person other than the name of the 3rd plaintiff as the 1st defendant governorship candidate for Kwara State for the forthcoming April,2011 governorship election

5. An order of the court nullifying/setting aside the submission of the name of the 4th defendant by the 1st defendant to the 3rd defendant as the 1st defendants governorship candidate for Kwara State for the forthcoming April, 2011 governorship election.

6. An order of the court restraining the 3rd defendant from accepting, recognizing and/or treating as the 1st defendants governorship candidate for Kwara State for the forthcoming April 2011 governorship election the 4th defendant or any other person than the 3rd plaintiff submitted or sent to the 3rd defendant by the 1st and 2nd defendants’

At the trial Federal High Court the two issues formulated for determination were resolved in favour of the Defendants. On an appeal to the Court of Appeal, it dismissed the appeal. Hence the instant appeal is a further appeal to this Court by the Appellants. Appellants filed their brief of argument on 28/1/2013 and distilled (THREE ISSUES for determination as follows:

’31 Whether or not the lower court was right in its conclusions that the trial court properly and correctly evaluated and drew correct inferences from the affidavit and documentary evidence placed before it and that by the tenure of Exhibits 1, 2, 3 & 4 and Articles 2, 12, 1(i) &(j), 14.1 and 14.5 of Exhibit 1 (PDP Constitution) the 1st appellants led State Executive Committee of the 1st respondent is not the authentic Kwara State Executive Committee (Grounds 1 and 2).

3.2 Whether or not the lower court was right in its conclusions that by Articles 12.72;17.1 and 12.2 of the constitution of the 1st respondent (Exhibit 1) the powers of the State Chairman and the State Executive Committee under Articles 12.3 (b)& (d); 12.41(c) and 13.22 of Exhibit 1 with respect to the congress for the election or nomination of the governorship candidates of the party have been taken away. (Grounds 3 and 4).

3.3 Whether or not the lower court was right in its conclusions that the holdings of the trial court on issues raised suo motu by it were inconsequential and did not occasion a miscarriage of justice on the appellants who were said to have been tardy in not addressing the issues (Grounds 5 and 6).’ 1

In addition to these three issues formulated above, learned counsel for appellants has invited this Court to depart from its decision in the case of LADO V. CPC (2012) All FWLR (Pt.607) 598 and other decisions in that line pursuant to Order 6 Rule 5(4) of the Supreme Court Rules.

The grounds upon which the invitation to depart from LADOs case (supra) are predicated are stated as follows:

‘1. The decisions of the Court overlooked the status, aim and intendments and effects of the Constitution of a political party

2. The decisions have the likely effect of allowing the party leadership to foist on the party candidates of their choice in flagrant disregard and violation of the constitution of the party and section 87(7) and 10 of the Electoral Act, 2010 thereby leaving the aggrieved members without redress.

3. Adherence to the decisions is likely to cause and or perpetuate injustice’.

On his part, learned counsel for the 1st and 2nd Respondents filed their brief of argument on 18/9/2012. He submitted that the Supreme Court is invested with powers to review, depart or overrule its previous decisions, which power must be exercised with greatest hesitation and caution but in consideration of established guiding principles so as to allow for consistency in the decisions of the courts. Reliance was placed on the case of PAUL ODI V. OSAFILE (1985) 1 NWLR (Pt. 1) 17 at 34. He however distilled a sole issue for determination thus:

‘Whether the lower court was not right when it held that the trial court evaluated the affidavit and documentary evidence placedbefore it.’

On his part learned counsel for 3rd Respondent in the brief filed on 10/9/2012 has submitted that the invitation to this Court to depart from its decision in LADO V. C.P.C. is baseless and is not rooted in the appeal before the court, that the decisions of the lower courts were based on the interpretation of the Constitution of the 1st respondent and never based on the decision of this Court over party affairs as stated in LADOS case (supra). Relying on SHAMSIDEEN ABOLORE BAKAREV. NIGERIAN RAILWAY CORPORATION (2007) All FWLR (Pt. 391) 579 at 1603, it submitted further that the Appellants have failed to show that the decision in LADOV. CPC is an instrument of injustice. He urged the court to decline the invitation. However, learned counsel raised THREE issues for determination as follows.

‘(a) Whether the lower court was correct in holding that the trial court properly evaluated and drew inferences from the affidavit and documentary evidence placed before it to arrive at the conclusion that the 1st appellants led State Executive Committee is not the authentic and recognized Kwara State Executive Committee of the 1st respondent.

(b) Whether the lower court was right in its conclusion that with respect to the congress for the election or nomination of the Governorship candidate of the 1st respondent in a State, the powers of the State Chairman and its Executives under Articles 12 – 3 (b) & (d), 12.41 (c) and 13.22 of the 1st respondents constitution has been taken away by the provisions of Articles 12.72, 17.1 and 17.2 of the same constitution.

(c) Whether the alleged issue raises suo motu by the trial court were in fact issues raised suo motu and whether the lower court was right in its conclusion that the alleged issues were inconsequential to have affected the judgment of the trial court.’

I shall consider first the Appellants invitation to this Court to depart from its earlier decision in LADO V. CPC(supra). Generally, this Court may depart from or overrule its previousdecision under certain circumstances and in accordance with laid downprinciples of law, or given per incuriam or that it has become an instrument of injustice and so on. See: BAKARE V. NRC (2007) All FWLR(Pt. 391) 1663; VEPEE INPUSTRIES LTP. V. COCOA INDUSTRIES LTD. (2008)All FWLR (Pt. 425) 1667 at 1687. It is also note-worthy that the Order 6 Rule5 (4) of the Rules of this Court provides 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 be drown, and the intention shall also be restated as one of the reasons.’

From the above it is clear the reasons for invitation extended to court to depart from its previous decision must be strong, and coherent. See IDONIBOYE V. NNPC (2003) FWLR (Pt.146) 959, MACLEAN V. IN LARS LTD. (1980) 8-11 SC. 11.

The provisions of Order 6 Rule 5(4)(supra) above does not confer a right of appeal on a party or any person for that matter to complain about a decision not favourable to his case. The court does not, as a matter of course overrule, reverse its previous decisions whether on questions of substantive or procedural law. The court must be satisfied or convinced that the earlier decision was clearly and patently wrong.

Well guided by a plethora of cases on this point, particularly in the case of VEPEE INDUSTRIES LTD. V. COCOA INDUSTRIES LTD. (supra) and in the circumstances of and facts of the case at hand which are similar to those in LADO V. CPC (supra), the Appellants in my view have not made a case for departure from the decision of that case and other similar decisions of this Court.

A point has been made here, however,that the difference between this case and Lados case lies in the fact that that case is limited to the issue of nomination of party candidates for elections, the present case goes some steps further in that it includes the question as to who is the authentic State Executive Committee of the 1st Respondent (PDP) in Kwara State. Lados case did not decide that the courts have no jurisdiction to determine any issue relating to the provisions of the Constitutions of political parties, as it relates to the rights and  privileges of the organs of the parties and the members interest.

The question remains, however, whether Appellants have satisfied the legal requirements necessary for this Court to depart from its decision in Lados case. It is my view that they have not. They have not shown that the decision in Lados case is wrong in law or it has been given per incuriam. It has been decided that a party in an action founded on party nomination for elections who fails to bring himself within the provisions of Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), has no cause of action to be enforced in the courts and as such the courts will have no jurisdiction to entertain such an action, particularly as the issue as to who should be a candidate in a political party still remains a political question within the domestic jurisdiction of the political parties, and therefore not justifiable.

It is my firm view that the sole issue formulated by the 1st and 2nd Respondents is apt and appropriate and sufficient to determine this appeal. It has been reproduced above. It is all about evaluation of the affidavit and documentary evidence at the trial. Whilst the appellants have contended that the learned trial judge failed to adequately evaluate the evidence on record and thereby drew wrong conclusion from accepted credible evidence and took erroneous view of the matter, the learned counsel for the Respondents have all submitted that the trial court properly and correctly evaluated the evidence on record by coming to the conclusion it arrived at; that it was after exhaustive consideration of the case of the parties that the lower court proceeded to hold that the trial court was thorough in its evaluation of both the affidavit and documentary evidence before it affirmed the decision. The lower court even went further to consider Exhibits 9 and 10 which the trial court failed to evaluate.

The Appellants have not demonstrated that this is a proper case for this Court to interfere with the concurrent findings of facts by the two lower courts. See: EZEOKE V. NWABO (1988) 1NWLR (Pt. 72) 616: DURO SARO V. AYORINDE (2005) 3 – 4 SC 14: AKEREDOLUV. AKINYEMI (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt. 108) 164.

The ascription of probative value to evidence is a matter primarily before the trial court, where the trial court has thoroughly and unquestionably evaluated the evidence and appraised the facts, it is not the business of the appellate court to substitute its own views of undisputed fact with the views of the trial court. See BALOGUN V.AGBOOLA (1974) 1 All NLR. (Pt. 2) 60. Also FATOYINBO V. WILLIAMS(1959) 1 FSC 87.) Appellate court can only interfere with such findings after evaluation by the trial court, where the said finding are perverse as it is not supported by the evidence on record or is based on wrong evaluation or not based on the evidence on record or is based on wrong evaluation, or not based on the evidence led at the trial at all. See: WOLUCHEM V. CHIEF GUDI(1981) 5 SC 291 and EBBA V. OGODO (1984) 4 SC 84.

It is my view that the lower court was perfectly in order in affirming the evaluation of evidence by the trial court and the conclusion it arrived at. I do not see any reason why this Court should interfere with the concurrent findings of facts.

For the above reasons and the fuller ones lucidly adumbrated in the leading Judgment, I too feel that this appeal should be dismissed.

I order accordingly, but I abide by order made as to costs.

 

SULEIMAN GALADIMA,J.S.C.:

I had the privilege of reading in draft the lead judgment just delivered by My Lord, Onnoghen, JSC and I entirely agree with the reasoning and conclusion in the invitation to depart from the decision of the Court in Lado v. CPC (2012) All FWLR (Pt. 607) 598 and on the merit of the appeal. I wish to chip in a few words on the invitation to depart from the decision in Lados case (supra) and other similar decisions of this Court.

The request for departure from the said decision was made by learned Counsel for the Appellants, based on the following grounds:

‘GROUNDS FOR THE INVITATION:

(1) The decisions of the Court overlooked the status, aim and intendments and effects of the Constitution of a political party.

(2) The decision have the likely effect of allowing the party leadership to foist on the party candidates of their choice in flagrant disregard and violation of the Constitution of the party and Section 87 (7) and(20) of the Electoral Act, 2010 thereby leaving the aggrieved members without redress.

(3) Adherence to the decisions is likely to cause and perpetuate injustice.’

In my humble view, Grounds 2 and 3 stem from, and are dependent on, Ground 1. It is to be noted that the trial Court did not decline jurisdiction in the matter on the ground that the claims outside the contemplation of Section 87 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).On the contrary the trial Court held, inter alia:

‘ I therefore find and hold that this Court has constitutional and statutory jurisdiction over the matter. This matter is not just on intra-party dispute but relates to the interpretation of the partys Constitution as regards primaries or congresses for the election of candidates.’

The decision of the trial Court did not ‘overlook the status, aim and intendments and effects of the Constitution of a political party’ but assumed jurisdiction in a matter that ‘relates to the interpretation of the partys Constitution as regards primaries or congress for the election of candidates.’ The ruling was made in favour of the appellant and there was no appeal against it on the basis of Lados case or at all.

Appellants invitation to this Court to depart from its decision in Lados case is not supported by the grounds upon which it is predicated. The ruling of the trial Court in favour of the appellants over which there was no appeal did not depart from Lados case as the latter case did not decide that the Courts have no jurisdiction in any issue relating to the Constitutions of political parties.

I think that appellants apprehension with regards to the decision in Lados case arose from failure to distinguish the special or extraordinary jurisdiction of the Court from its ordinary jurisdiction. See In the Matter of Candas Narreondees Navivuhu v.C. A. Turner ILR 13 Born. 520 at p.533.

In my view, the special jurisdiction granted the High Court by Section 87 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended)does not derogate from the ordinary jurisdiction of the Court pursuant to which it deals with matters relating to the interpretation and application of the Constitution of political parties as was done by the trial Court.

On the merit of the appeal, based on the reasoning and conclusion reached in the lead judgment, I would also dismiss, and I do dismiss, the appeal as devoid of merit. I abide by the consequential order in the lead judgment.

NWALI SYLVESTERN GWUTA, J.S.C.:

The plaintiffs/appellants were first before the Federal High Court llorin wherein they sought by means of an originating summons for the determination of the questions which all relate to the interpretations of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)on the guidelines for primary elections. The reliefs are all reproduced in the lead judgment. The trial court on the 7th April, 2011 found no merit in the originating summons and dismissed same. Dissatisfied with the judgment, the appellants appealed to the Court of Appeal llorin division which in a considered judgment delivered on the 5th March, 2012 also dismissed the appeal and hence the appeal now before us.

The appellants as a prerequisite, has called on this court to depart from Lado V. CPC (2011) 11-12 (Pt. 1)(SCM) PAGE 149 on the ground that the decision has the likely effect of allowing the party leadership to foist on the party a candidate of their choice, in flagrant disregard and violation of the constitution of the party it and section 87(7) and (10) of the Electoral Act 2010. In other words that there is the fear that adherence to the decision is likely to cause the perpetuation of injustice.

The question whether this court is vested with the power and jurisdiction to depart and/or over-rule its previous decision has been well answered by the 1st and 2nd respondents learned counsel  on their brief of argument. In other words, in as much as the power is exercisable, the court is expected to be very hesitant and thus apply great caution and in line with established guiding principles in relation thereto.This is obvious especially where the courts are expected to be consistent in their decisions and also bearing in mind the principles of judicial precedents where the certainty of law as enunciated is to be followed as a rule of stare decisis. It has been declared times without number in plethora of authorities that precedent is an indispensable foundation on which to decide what is the law. However, there may be times when a departure from precedent is in the interest of justice and also the development of the law. Short of the foregoing situational circumstances, ordinarily this court as a matter of policy is reluctant to reverse its previous decisions. The conditions laid down and necessitating such reversal have been spelt out by his Lordship Obaseki JSC in the case of Odi V. Osafile (1985( 1 NWLR (Pt. l)p. 17 at pages 34 and 35 wherein he said:-

‘the Supreme Court, as a court at the apex of the judicial hierarchy in this country has the jurisdiction and power, sitting as full court and overrule previous erroneous decisions on points of law given by a full court on constitutional questions or other wise.

It will depart from such decisions and overrule them in the interest of justice and the law. These previous decisions must be clearly shown to be (1) vehicles of injustice or (2) given per incuriam or (3) clearly erroneous in law.’ (emphasis is mine)

The conclusion to be drawn from the foregoing authority is that, the decision, seeking departure must be, ‘on constitutional questions or otherwise’. The invitation by the appellants in the caseat hand is seeking that this court should interpret certain provisions of the partys constitution as distinct from the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which is envisaged by the court in the case of Odi V. Osafile supra.

The view held by this court in the case of Bronik Motors Ltd & Anor V. Wema Bank Ltd 14 NSCC page 227is also in confirmation that this court will not normally depart from a judicial precedent unless three prerequisite conditions are prayed for in aid and satisfied. The conditions are in consonance with those stipulated in the case of Odi V. Osafile supra,

A further related authority is a decision in the case of Tewogbade V. Obadina (1994) 4 S.C.NJ (pt. l)page 161 particularly at page 180 where this court on the same principle on departure also held that:-

‘Although it would do so with the greatest hesitation, this court has ample jurisdiction and power to depart from or overrule its previous decision. The underlining considerations for departing from a previous decision by the Supreme Court are, inter alia, that the decision is impending the proper development of the law or has led to results which are unjust or undesirable or which are contrary to public policy. See EgbeV. Yusuf (1992) 6 nwlr (pt. 145) 1 @ 15 and Akinsanya V. U.B.A Ltd (1986)4 NWLR (PT.35) 237. This court may also depart from its previous decision if such previous decision is inconsistent with the constitution or is erroneous on point of law or that it was given per incuriam or that it is occasioning miscarriage of justice or perpetrating injustice. See Odi V. Osafile (1985)1 NWLR (PT. 1) 17 @ 34 Cardoso V. Daniel (1986) 2 NWLR (PT. 20) 1, BronikMotors B. Wema Bank (1983) 1 S.C.N.L.R. 296 and Rossek V. African Continental Bank Ltd (1993) 8 NWLR (pt. 312) 382 @ 431.’ In the case of Lado V. C.P.Csupra at page 169 of the report, this court per Onnoghen JSC had the following to say amongst others:

‘The issue of jurisdiction raised in this case is therefore as it relates to the competence of the courts to hear and determine matters relating to the nomination of candidates.

 

COUNSELS

SALAMAN JAWONDO ESQ for the appellants.  With him are messrss SAKA R. AYODEJI and IDRIS A. ABDULLAHI

A. A. IBRAHIM ESQ for the 1st and 2nd respondents with him A.M LAWAL ESQ. B. R GOLD ESQ for the 3rd respondent with him T. A HAMMED ESQ.

 

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