Architects Registration Council Of Nigeria (No.4) In Re: O.c. Majoroh V. Prof. M. A. Fassassi (1987)
LawGlobal-Hub Lead Judgment Report
The only issue before us for determination in the application of Chief F. R.A. Williams S.A.N. is whether this Court has power to review its order, once a final judgment has been delivered and an order has been made.
At the beginning of his argument, we drew the attention of learned counsel to the decision of this Court in Adigun v. Attorney-General of Oyo State No. 2 (1987) 2 N.W.L.R. 197 and we told him to present his arguments within our decision in that case. It was the same learned counsel that brought the application consideration of the points raised by him.
Now, Chief Williams has tried to distinguish this case from the Adigun’s case by saying that in the Adigun’s case, learned counsel submitted, the issue was “inherent jurisdiction.” Where a court of record has made an order without jurisdiction as such order being a nullity, the Court has power to set the order aside. Counsel has also referred us to Forfre v. Sarfeh 1958 A.C. 59 Solitan v. Dashney 81 A.L.R. 2nd Series 536. According to learned counsel, the error must be an error as to jurisdiction for the Court has jurisdiction to decide that it has no jurisdiction. Counsel also referred to section 33 of the 1979 Constitution.
Mr. Akinyemi, for his part, has submitted that the Adigun’s case is on all four with this case.
Now, in Adigun v. A.G. of Oyo State No. 2 (supra) the application was that the judgment delivered in the Adigun’s case No. 1 be “amended”. The grounds included that-
“Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules ought not to be construed so as to deprive the Supreme Court of its undoubted inherent jurisdiction to correct errors drawn to its attention.”
What are the powers of this Court to review itself Certainly, there are no constitutional or statutory powers in this Court to review its order once a judgment is delivered. And so, the powers could only be inherent. In other words, whatever jurisdiction we could be said to possess to review ourselves could only be inherent. And these we have fully considered in the Adigun’s case.
Learned counsel has submitted that a Court has jurisdiction to rule that it has no jurisdiction. There is no doubt that learned counsel is right in so far as that statement of law goes. A Court is a Judge in its own course when it comes to determining its own jurisdiction. But that is not the issue here. Before a Court finally determines a case placed before it, it is seized with jurisdiction to determine whether or not it has jurisdiction. But, and this is of utmost importance, once the Court has finally determined the issue, it is functus officio that judgment, if it is by a Court lower than the Supreme Court it can only be corrected on appeal. In the Supreme Court, the decision of that Court in so far as that case is concerned is final for all ages. As I said in the Adigun No.2 Case, it is final in the sense of real finality. It is final for ever. Only a legislation ad hominen can alter it.
It would not matter whether the error complained of is procedural or it goes to jurisdiction. And as Karibi-Whyte J.S.C. said in the same case-
“The jurisdiction vested in the Court to hear and determine a matter before it is different from the exercise of power with respect to a matter within its jurisdiction……”
What learned counsel is asking us to do is to review our judgment which we gave yesterday, on the ground that this Court has no jurisdiction to make the order. This is the sort of matter that comes before a Court of Appeal as a ground of appeal. There is no Court of Appeal above the Supreme Court and the order stands for ever.
In the circumstances, this application is totally misconceived and it is hereby refused.
ANIAGOLU, J.S.C.: I agree with the Ruling (which I was a party to drafting) just read by my learned brother, Kayode Eso, J.S.C., and hold, like him, that the application of Chief Williams for us to review the Ruling and the Order we made yesterday is totally misconceived. The latest decision of this Court in Adigun v. Attorney-General of Oyo Slate (1987) 2 N. W.L. R 197 in which the same Counsel applied for this Court to review its final judgment, is a complete answer to this application, the present application being on all fours with that application.
I would also refuse, and hereby refuse, the application.
KAZEEM, J.S.C.: I have had the privilege of reading the draft of the Ruling just read by my learned brother Eso J.S.C. and I entirely agree with it.
OPUTA, J.S.C.: I fully agree with the Lead Ruling just delivered by my learned brother Eso, J.S.C. Chief Williams’ application, to my mind, is misconceived and wrong. Unless Mr. Adigun’s case No.2 is over-ruled, this Court cannot but dismiss this application. It cannot review its decisions once given and in the same case.
BELGORE, J.S.C.: This application is totally misconceived S.215 Constitution says:
“without prejudice to the Powers of the President or of the Governor of a State with respect to prerogative of mercy no appeal shall lie to any other body or person from any determination of the Supreme Court.”
The Court gave judgment in this matter yesterday and made consequential orders. Thereafter this Court is functus officio. To urge us to review our decision in respect of order made under the decision is to invite us to violate the Constitution we are sworn to defend. Whether this panel or the full Court cannot re-open the matter as we have no power to hear appeal against our own decision.
I agree with Eso, J.S.C. that this application has no merit and I dismiss it.