Just Decided – Latest Supreme Court Cases – Jan 31st, 2014.

ORHENA ADUGU GBILEVE & ANOR VS MRS. NGUNAN ADDINGI & ANOR
 
LEGALPEDIA  CITATION: LER[2014] SC 193/2012
 
AREAS OF LAW: PRE-ELECTION MATTER, JURISDICTION, DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE
SUMMARY OF FACT
The Plaintiff/1st Respondent won the primaries as the candidate to represent Buruku Constituency of Benue State House of Assembly in the general election. Irrespective of the press release confirming the Plaintiff/1st Respondent’s emergence as the winner, the State Secretariat of the party replaced her name with the 1st Respondent/Appellant’s name as having won the election and a certificate of return was issued to him. Dissatisfied, Plaintiff/1st Respondent filed an originating summons at the Federal High Court, for the determination of five questions and the grant of seven reliefs. The suit was resolved on the basis of the affidavit evidence before the Court and judgment was entered in favour of the Plaintiff/1st Respondent. The Court ordered that the Plaintiff/1st Respondent’s name be returned as the lawful aspirant and that she should be issued with a certificate of return. The Respondents/Appellants’ appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed and the judgment of the trial court affirmed, hence they  further appealed to the Supreme Court.
HELD
Appeal dismissed
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION
Whether the lower court was correct to have affirmed the jurisdiction of the trial court to entertain 1st Respondent’s suit (Grounds 6 & 7)
Having regards to the facts and evidence adduced in this case coupled with the applicable law, did the 1st Respondent prove her case to be entitled to judgment as decided by the trial court and affirmed by the lower court? (Grounds 1, 5 & 8)
Whether the lower court acted correctly in agreeing with the trial court when it failed or refused to order pleadings and / or take oral evidence to resolve the obvious material conflicts in the competing affidavits and counter affidavit of the parties before proceeding to judgment against the appellants. (Grounds 2)
RATIOS
 
DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE –WHEN ORAL EVIDENCE CAN BE DISPENSED WITH IN RESOLVING CONFLICTS IN EVIDENCE
“Where the conflicting evidence can be resolved from the documentary evidence the need to call oral evidence becomes unnecessary”. PER UMAI BAYANG AKAAHS
 
DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE-PURPOSE OF
“Documentary evidence is used as a hanger from which to test the veracity of the evidence whether given orally or by deposition”. PER UMAI BAYANG AKAAHS
 
EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE – WHEN AN APPELLATE COURT CANNOT INTEREFERE
“Where a court of trial unquestionably evaluates the evidence and justifiably appraises the facts, what the Court of Appeal ought to do is to find out whether there is evidence on record on which the trial Court could have acted. Once there is sufficient evidence on record from which the trial court arrived at its findings of fact, the appellate court cannot interfere”.   PER UMAI BAYANG AKAAHS
CONCURRENT FINDINGS OF LOWER COURT – ATTITUDE OF THE SUPREME COURT- WHEN TO  DISTURB
“The law is now fully established that the Supreme Court will not normally disturb the concurrent findings of two lower courts except it is shown that it has occasioned a miscarriage of justice or it is perversely arrived at”.  PER CLARA BATA OGUNBIYI
 
ISSUE OF JURISDICTION-WHERE AN ORIGINATING PROCESS DOES NOT CONFER JURISDICTION ON A TRIAL COURT – EFFECT ON PROCEEDINGS
“The issue of the jurisdiction of the trial court to entertain the originating summons ab initio is fundamental to the competence of the appeal before this court. Where the originating process at the trial court is found not to confer jurisdiction on the court, the proceedings are a nullity. The absence of jurisdiction has a ripple effect and taints the appellate courts, which would equally lack jurisdiction to entertain appeals arising from the null proceedings. PER KUDIRAT MOTONMORI OLATOKUNBO KEKERE -EKUN
JURISDICTION OF COURT – LACK OF – WHETHER PARTIES CAN CONFER JURISDICTION BY CONSENT OR ACQUIESCENCE
“It is also trite that where the court lacks jurisdiction, parties cannot confer jurisdiction by consent or acquiescence”. PER KUDIRAT MOTONMORI OLATOKUNBO KEKERE -EKUN
 
 
CASE MENTIONED
Adesola Vs Abidoye (1999) 14 NWLR (Pt.637) 28:
Akpagbue VS Ogu (1976) 6 SC. 63
Amadi VS Nwosu (1992) 5 NWLR (Pt.241) 273;
Bunge VS Gov. River State (2006) 12 NWLR (Pt. 995) 573″
Enang VS Adu (1981) 11 – 12 SC 25;
Ezekwesili VS Agbapuonwu (2003) 9 NWLR (PT. 825)337;
Fashanu VS Adekoya (1974) 6 SC. 84;(1974) 1 ALL NLR (Pt.l) 35;
Jadesimi Vs Okotie-Eboh (1986) 1 NWLR (Pt.16) 264;
Obiuweubi Vs CBN (2011) 7 NWLR (Pt.1247) 465
Onyejekwe V. The State (1992) 3 NWLR (Pt. 230) 444
Posu V. State (2011) All FWLR (Pt. 565) 234
SLB Consortium Ltd. Vs NNPC (2011) 9 NWLR (Pt.1252) 317
Woluchem VS Gudi (1981) 5 SC. 291;
 
STATUTES REFERRED TO
Electoral Act 2010 (as amended)
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended)

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