20 Unputdownable Judicial Pronouncements Of Hon. Justice Olabode Phodes-Vivour J.S.C (Rtd)

This compilation is purposely to celebrate the retirement of a rare and distinguished Nigerian jurist; Hon. Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour J.S.C [rtd] in my own token way.
Judicial officers, lawyers, law students, and even non-lawyers will definitely find these pronouncements useful.
Courtesy: Moruff O. Balogun, Esq.
1. ADERONPE V. ELERAN [2019]4 NWLR PT. 1661 Page 163.

On the attitudes of government officials.

“ This appeal brings into focus how high government officials who are expected to be fair to all persons instead act as they like, or on their whim and fancies. Such conduct makes the reasonable man have a bad impression of the workings of government”.

  1. A. G., CROSS RIVER STATE V. F.R.N [2019] 10 NWLR PT. 1681 Pages 406,446 and 447.

On locus standi of A.G., CROSS RIVER STATE in a case instituted on behalf of Hon. Justice Onnoghen C.J.N [Rtd].

Summary of facts: On 11th January 2019, the Code of Conduct Bureau filed a six counts charge relating to non-disclosure of assets against Honourable Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal. Subsequently, and relying on an ex-parte order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria suspended Honourable Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria.

CROSS RIVER STATE, whose Indigene Honourable Justice Watter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen is, believed that the charges filed by the Code of Conduct Bureau against Honourable Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen and his suspension from office by the President were in breach of the principles of separation of power in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,1999 [as amended].
Consequently, the Attorney general of Cross River State, as plaintiff on behalf of the Government of Cross River, commenced a suit against the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation at the Supreme Court by means of an originating summons under section 232 of the 1999 constitution.

PER RHODE-VIVOUR J.S.C [rtd] stated:

“ Locus standi will be accorded to a plaintiff who shows that this legal rights and obligation have been, or are being in danger of being violated or adversely affected. Has the plaintiff been able to establish this? No, a careful examination of the reliefs claimed reveals that they are all personal to Honourable Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen. The dispute is between his Lordship and the Federal Government and he has a legal right which is personal to him and it involves both law and facts.

This dispute does not affect Cross River State, nor are they for the benefits of Cross River State, and the cause of action does not create a legal right for Cross River State. The suit is of no benefit to Cross River state. Cross River State Government’s rights are not in dangers of being violated.

Furthermore, the legal rights alleged to have been infringed are those personal to his Lordship. The rights of Constitutional powers of the Government of Cross River State are not in any way infringed, or are they in danger, or those of the people of Cross River State. It is a fatal error for the plaintiff to file suit in the corporate capacity of the state.

It must now be abundantly clear that the plaintiff has no locus standi to institute this suit in the Supreme Court under its original jurisdiction. His lordship has a cause of action but unfortunately one that cannot be heard in the Supreme Court in its original jurisdiction for the simple reason that his lordship is not a state.See Section 232(1) of the Constitution.The proper forum for these claims is a High Court.

In view of the fact that the plaintiff lacks locus standi to maintain the action, this court has no jurisdiction to determine the action.

The preliminary objection has merit. It is sustained. The need to consider the merits of this suit is no longer necessary since the preliminary objection has merit. The suit is hereby struck out.”

  1. UWEMEDIMO V. MOBIL PRODUCING [NIG.] UNLTD [2019] 12 NWLR PT. 1685 PAGES 6,8 and 9.

On the proper time to withdraw appeal because of out of court settlement.

Summary of facts:
The applicants stated that they filed their notice of withdrawal of appeal in good faith in the hope of reaching an amicable settlement with the respondent having been so persuaded by a former President of Nigeria and by the respondent’s letter that implied a willingness to settle if the appeal was withdrawn. They stated that their application to restore the appeal to the cause list became necessary because of the hardship they were suffering after the expected amicable settlement did not materialize.

“Withdrawing an appeal in the belief that, that would show sincerity in settlement is not a good explanation or a good cause to justify the act. It shows lack of experience. An appeal is withdrawn after parties have been able to settle, not before. Withdrawing, the appeal in the way in which it was withdrawn is a clear indication that the appellants did not want to continue with the appeal. It remains dead for all time”.

  1. CHIEF OF STAFF V. EDWARD [2019] 14 NWLR PT. 1691 PAGES 185, 186 AND 194.
    On preliminary objection against the hearing of the appeal.
    Summary facts: The appellants applied to the Court of Appeal for extension of time to appeal against the judgment of the trial. In a considered ruling, the court of appeal dismissed the application only on the ground that the reason the appellants gave for not appealing within time was not substantial. The appellant appealed to the Supreme Court who equally struck out the appeal.

“ If the court is satisfied that the objection is well founded, there would be no need to go further to consider arguments in support of issues for determination. Hearing of the appeal abates.

The position of the law is that when a ground of appeal is based on facts or mixed law and fact, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is ousted unless leave had been sought and obtained”.

  1. KURMA V. SAUWA [2019] 3 NWLR PT. 1659 at 256 and 257.

On bindingness of judgment of court not appealed against.

“ When judgment is delivered by a court and none of the parties appealed within the time prescribed for filing appeal and none filed a motion for extension of time to appeal, it becomes clear that the parties are satisfied with the judgment. The judgment of the court is inviolate, alive and binding on the parties.

It has been said in a plethora of cases that courts are constituted to hear and determine live issues and not waste its time on issues which serve no purpose, and if decided, never determine the rights or liabilities of the parties”.

Moruff O. Balogun Esq.
Ijebu Ode, Ogun State.
09121207712 [WHATSAPP]

                                                  TO BE CONTINUED…
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