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Home ยป Articles ยป The legality of chamber’s judgment: whether an indispensable ground of appeal in Nigeria – Akilu sa’adu

The legality of chamber’s judgment: whether an indispensable ground of appeal in Nigeria – Akilu sa’adu

๐™๐™๐™š ๐™ก๐™š๐™œ๐™–๐™ก๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ฎ ๐™ค๐™›  ๐™˜๐™๐™–๐™ข๐™—๐™š๐™ง’๐™จ ๐™Ÿ๐™ช๐™™๐™œ๐™š๐™ข๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ: ๐™ฌ๐™๐™š๐™ฉ๐™๐™š๐™ง ๐™–๐™ฃ ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™™๐™ž๐™จ๐™ฅ๐™š๐™ฃ๐™จ๐™–๐™—๐™ก๐™š ๐™œ๐™ง๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™–๐™ฅ๐™ฅ๐™š๐™–๐™ก ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™‰๐™ž๐™œ๐™š๐™ง๐™ž๐™–

Nigeria, like any other sovereign states under the shimmering eyes of sun, is govern by Lawsโ€“ international or National.  And it is condition precedent that for every successful dispensation of justice, the justices or judges must, as a matter of truthfulness, religiously uphold the heavy canon of law and stand firmly on the itchy lane of justice.
on this background, this writting will  endeavor to expose the legality or otherwise of the judgement delivered in judge’s chamber.

๐™‡๐™š๐™œ๐™–๐™ก ๐™ค๐™ซ๐™š๐™ง๐™ซ๐™ž๐™š๐™ฌ

๐™heย  question of whether or not the judgement meted by a judge while in his chamber is constitutional girdles arround the strong waist of ๐™จ๐™š๐™˜๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃย  36 (3) an and (4) of the 1999 constitution (amended) . the section says : ” ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ฅ๐™ง๐™ค๐™˜๐™š๐™š๐™™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ๐™จ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™– ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง๐™ฉ ๐™ค๐™ง ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ฅ๐™ง๐™ค๐™˜๐™š๐™š๐™™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ๐™จ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™ฎ ๐™ฉ๐™ง๐™ž๐™—๐™ช๐™ฃ๐™–๐™ก ๐™ง๐™š๐™ก๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ข๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ง๐™จ ๐™ข๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™š๐™™ ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™จ๐™ช๐™—๐™จ๐™š๐™˜๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ (1) ๐™ค๐™› ๐™ฉ๐™๐™ž๐™จ ๐™จ๐™š๐™˜๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ ๐™จ๐™๐™–๐™ก๐™ก ๐™—๐™š ๐™๐™š๐™ก๐™™ ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™‹๐™๐˜ฝ๐™‡๐™„๐˜พ (๐™š๐™ข๐™ฅ๐™๐™–๐™จ๐™ž๐™จ ๐™ข๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™š).

similarly, subsection (4) of the referred section says: ” ๐™ฌ๐™๐™š๐™ฃ๐™š๐™ซ๐™š๐™ง ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™ฎ ๐™ฅ๐™š๐™ง๐™จ๐™ค๐™ฃ ๐™ž๐™จ ๐™˜๐™๐™–๐™ง๐™œ๐™š๐™™ ๐™ฌ๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ ๐™– ๐™˜๐™ง๐™ž๐™ข๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™–๐™ก ๐™ค๐™›๐™›๐™š๐™ฃ๐™˜๐™š, ๐™๐™š ๐™จ๐™๐™–๐™ก๐™ก, ๐™ช๐™ฃ๐™ก๐™š๐™จ๐™จ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™˜๐™๐™–๐™ง๐™œ๐™š ๐™ž๐™จ ๐™ฌ๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™๐™™๐™ง๐™–๐™ฌ๐™ฃ ๐™—๐™š ๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ก๐™š๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™– ๐™›๐™–๐™ž๐™ง ๐™๐™š๐™–๐™ง๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™‹๐™๐˜ฝ๐™‡๐™„๐˜พ ( emphasis mine).

Public as defined by Black Law dictionary as “pertaining to a state, nation or general public.. . open to all; notorious… “

It is a setttled law that where any judement is entered contrary to the provision of constitution, which is the mother law of the land, can not be held in our court and it is liable to be struck out.ย  (๐™จ๐™š๐™š ๐™จ๐™š๐™˜๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ 1(3) ๐™ค๐™› 1999 ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ช๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ).

The above alluded constitutional proviso stirred a  cloud of dust on the atmosphere of judicial sphere  particularly to a Law students who are trying to acclimatise with  the complex  or harculean nature of judicial proceedings.

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Now, the question is whether “๐™ฅ๐™ช๐™—๐™ก๐™ž๐™˜”  as comtemplated in the 1999 constitution denotes “chamber” or wether judge’s chamber can be considered as “public”?

This question as been elaborated and fastidiously answered in the case of  ๐™Š๐™ซ๐™ž๐™–๐™จ๐™ช ๐™ซ. ๐™Š๐™ซ๐™ž๐™–๐™จ๐™ช  , per Niki  Tobi JSC where he said:
     “๐˜ผ ๐™Ÿ๐™ช๐™™๐™œ๐™š’๐™จ ๐™˜๐™๐™–๐™ข๐™—๐™š๐™ง ๐™ž๐™จ ๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ฉ ๐™– ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง๐™ฉ ๐™๐™–๐™ก๐™ก ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™ฌ๐™๐™ž๐™˜๐™ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ฅ๐™ช๐™—๐™ก๐™ž๐™˜ ๐™ฌ๐™ž๐™ก๐™ก ๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ง๐™ข๐™–๐™ก๐™ก๐™ฎ ๐™๐™–๐™ซ๐™š ๐™ง๐™ž๐™œ๐™๐™ฉ ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™–๐™˜๐™˜๐™š๐™จ๐™จ”
 similarly, it was a equally and meritoriously held in the case of  ๐™€๐™™๐™ž๐™—๐™ค ๐™ซ  ๐™Ž๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ฉ๐™š ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ: ” ๐˜ผ ๐™Ÿ๐™ช๐™™๐™œ๐™š’๐™จ ๐™˜๐™๐™–๐™ข๐™—๐™š๐™ง๐™จ ๐™˜๐™–๐™ฃ๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ฉ ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ฌ๐™ž๐™ก๐™ก ๐™ฃ๐™š๐™ซ๐™š๐™ง ๐™—๐™š ๐™– ๐™ฅ๐™ช๐™—๐™ก๐™ž๐™˜ ๐™ฅ๐™ก๐™–๐™˜๐™š ๐™ค๐™ง ๐™–๐™ฃ ” ๐™ค๐™ฅ๐™š๐™ฃ” ๐™ช๐™ฃ๐™ง๐™š๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™ง๐™ž๐™˜๐™ฉ๐™š๐™™ ๐™ฅ๐™ก๐™–๐™˜๐™š” 

The judge’s chambers is his “inner sanctum” . it is certainly not a place ordinarily accessible to the public without his permission. (see the case of ๐˜ฝ๐™–๐™—๐™– ๐™ซ. ๐™‰. ๐˜พ. ๐˜ผ. ๐˜พ ๐™•๐™–๐™ง๐™ž๐™– ). a hearing in public entails a situation where the public is not barred. (see the case of ๐™€๐™™๐™ž๐™—๐™ค ๐™ซ ๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ฉ๐™š (infra)
 This is to say that a hearing is said to be conducted in “public” and in consonance with the extant  section of constitution, if it is conducted and delivered in the provided court-Hall where it is openly accessible, untrammelled, to every persons.
 This is captured in the case of ๐™†๐™ค๐™จ๐™š๐™—๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™ฃ๐™ช &๐™ค๐™ง๐™จ ๐™ซ ๐˜ผ๐™ก๐™ž๐™ข๐™ž (2005)  that :
    ” ๐˜ผ  ๐™ฅ๐™ก๐™–๐™˜๐™š  ๐™ฆ๐™ช๐™–๐™ก๐™ž๐™›๐™ž๐™š๐™จ  ๐™ช๐™ฃ๐™™๐™š๐™ง ๐™จ๐™š๐™˜๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ  36(3) ๐™ค๐™›  1999  ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ช๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ  ๐™ฉ๐™ค  ๐™—๐™š  ๐™˜๐™–๐™ก๐™ก๐™š๐™™  “๐™ฅ๐™ช๐™—๐™ก๐™ž๐™˜”….. ๐™ž๐™› ๐™ž๐™ฉ  ๐™ž๐™จ  ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฉ๐™ง๐™ž๐™œ๐™๐™ฉ๐™ก๐™ฎ  ๐™–๐™˜๐™˜๐™š๐™จ๐™จ๐™ž๐™—๐™ก๐™š  ๐™ฌ๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š  ๐™ฅ๐™š๐™ง๐™ข๐™ž๐™จ๐™จ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ  ๐™ค๐™ง  ” ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™จ๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™Ÿ๐™ช๐™™๐™œ๐™š”
it is beatiful to judiciously note that , where a judge repudiated to follow the provision of section 36(3) and subsequently enter judgement, the defect ,being fundamental, goes to the root of proceedings and renders the entire judgement ineffectual ,null and void  . see the case of  ๐™Š๐™ซ๐™ž๐™–๐™จ๐™ช ๐™ซ  ๐™Š๐™ซ๐™ช๐™ž๐™–๐™จ๐™ช (supra) .

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In any  proceeding whether civil claim or criminal matters, where judgement is entered at the judge’s chamber is null and void thus, if appeal would be overturned   see the case of ๐™Ž๐™ž๐™ข๐™ค๐™ฃ ๐™€๐™™๐™ž๐™—๐™ค ๐™ซ ๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ฉ๐™š (supra). in this instant case the proceedings and plea of rhe appellants  were taken in the judge’s chambers. the supreme court held that: ๐™ž๐™ฉ ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™จ ๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ฉ ๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™ก๐™ฎ ๐™ž๐™ง๐™ง๐™š๐™œ๐™ช๐™ก๐™–๐™ง๐™ง๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ฎ : ๐™ž๐™ฉ ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™จ ๐™– ๐™›๐™ช๐™ฃ๐™™๐™–๐™ข๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ก๐™ก๐™ฎ ๐™™๐™š๐™›๐™š๐™˜๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ซ๐™š ๐™ง๐™š๐™ฃ๐™™๐™š๐™ง๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ง๐™š ๐™ฅ๐™ง๐™˜๐™š๐™š๐™™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ๐™จ ๐™ฃ๐™ช๐™ก๐™ก ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ซ๐™ค๐™ž๐™™ “.

Lastlt, it has been thouroughly depicted that, whenever a judge delivered judgement in his well-cushioned chamber, it will be a ground for an appeal .

In ๐˜พonclusion

Based on the above copiously alluded  constitutional proviso and judicial authority , the judges’ chambers are not court rooms hence, can not be contemplated as “public” since people has little or trammeled  access to the chambers.

 Thus, any judgement entered by a judge in his chambers is tantamount to be struck out on appeal and will form a bricks for erecting grounds of Appeal.

About Author

Akilu Sa’adu is 200 level Law student from the Faculty of Law Ahmadu Bello University Zaria who believe in the religious observance of the constitution. He is a legal researcher, writer and a poet.

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2 Responses

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