The award of costs involves a judicial discretion which must be exercised judicially and judiciously on fixed principles that is according to rules of reason and justice not according to private opinion. See Wurno v. VAC Ltd. (1956) I FSC 33 at 34. The exercise of such discretion must similarly not be affected by question of benevolence or sympathy. The award of costs is not meant to be a bonus to the successful party and should not be awarded on sentiment. See Universal Bank of Nigeria Ltd. v. Nwaokolo (1995) 11 Kings Law report (KLR) 919. Rewani v. Festus Okotie-Eboh (1960) 5 FSC 200 at 207. It follows therefore that the discretion of the court in awarding costs must be judicially and judiciously. It is an acceptable practice in law for appellate court not to interfere with the exercise of discretion by lower courts. In this regard appellate courts seldom interfere with the exercise of discretion in awards of costs except where such discretion is not exercised judicially and judiciously. See Nwaubani v. Golden Guinea Breweries Plc. (1995) 6 NWLR (Pt 400) page 191. A trial judge has discretion whether to award costs or not and also as regards the person by whom the costs are to be paid.

— Abdu Aboki JCA. ACB v Ajugwo (2011) – CA/E/66/2006

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Speaking generally, costs as between party and party are given or awarded as an indemnity to the person entitled to them, usually a successful party at the conclusion of proceedings in a case, not as a bonus to him or imposed as a punishment to the losing party. REWANE v OKOTIE-EBOH (1960) SCNLR 461; UBN v SCPOK (NIG) LTD (1998) 12 NWLR 578; OGUNMOKUN v MILAD, OSUN STATE (1999) 3 NWLR (594) 261 at 287. In addition, in awarding costs, a Court is entitled to consider among other factors, the following: a) the summons fee b) duration of the case c) legal representation d) expenses incurred by the successful party in the ordinary course of prosecuting the case. e) The value or purchasing power of the Naira at the time of the award. See ONABANJO V EWETUGA (1993) 4 NWLR ( 2 8 8 ) 4 4 3 a t 4 6 0 ; DELTA STEEL CO. LTD v AMERICAN COMP. TECH. LTD (1999) 4 NWLR (597) 53 at 68.

— H.M. Ogunwumiju, JCA. First Bank v Oronsaye (2019) – CA/B/335/13

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Mrs Eno Umo v Mrs Cecilia Udonwa (2012) LPELR-7857 (CA), this Court held as follows per Garba JCA: “On the issue of costs, ordinarily, the assessment and award of costs in a case are left at the discretion of the Court by the relevant rules. For our purposes in the present appeal, Order 31, Rule 6 of the High Court of Cross River State (Civil Procedure) Rules 1987, applicable at the time of suit, provides thus: “6. Subject to the provisions of any applicable law and these Rules, costs, both actual and incidental to all proceeding in the High Court, including the administration of estates and trusts, shall be at the discretion of the Judge, and the Judge shall have full power to determine by whom and to what extent the costs are to be paid.”

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Even though costs follow events,there shall be no order on costs.

— O. Ariwoola, JSC. African Intl. Bank Ltd. v Integrated Dimensional System (2012) – SC.278/2002

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✓ Olasope v. National bank of Nigeria Ltd. & Anor (1985) 3 NWLR (pt 11) page 147 of 152. This court reduced the N200 costs awarded to the 1st Respondent to N100. Kutigi JCA (as he then was) said:- ‘I see no basis for awarding N200 costs to the 2nd Respondent who to all intent and purposes appears to be a busy-body as far as this suit is concerned. He voluntarily joined himself and had nothing to ask the Appellant even after testifying in court. And coupled with what his own counsel said in court below that his appearance should be discontinued. He is in my view entitled to no costs and I award none to him.’
✓ In Umarco Nigeria Ltd. v. Panelpina World transport Ltd. (1986) 1 CA (pt 2) page 324, this court set aside the N1,000 cost awarded in favour of the Respondent on the ground that this amount was not only excessive but also unreasonable having regard to the out-of-pocket expenses, the length of hearing and other relevant circumstances. See Oforn & Ors v. Odunsi (1960) NMLR 12. But in Daily Times Nigeria Ltd. v. Chief William (1986) NWLR Pt 36 page 526. The judge awarded the Respondent N1,000.00 exemplary damages and N1,000 costs. The Appellant appealed both on the exemplary damages and on the cost. On the issue of costs, it was contended that as the Respondent conducted the case himself and spent only N101.17k out-of-pocket expenses, N1,000 costs was excessive. The court held that award of N1,000 was not excessive even though the respondent out-of-pocket expenses are N101.17k . Ademola JCA (as he then was) said:- ‘On the issue of costs awarded I do not regard it as excessive because all factors must have been taken into consideration and the fact that the Respondent conducted the case himself should not necessarily be against him but could also be in favour of the Appellant in that if a counsel had been employed by the Respondent, the cost awarded could have reflected counsel cost in favour of the Respondent.’

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Both sides have failed or succeeded in parts on this appeal and it is fair to desist from making any order as to costs.

— Coker JSC. Shell Bp Petroleum Dev. Co. v. Jammal Engineering (Nigeria) Limited (1974)

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It is trite that the award of costs is always at the discretion of the court but such discretion must be exercised judiciously and judicially. It is also a well settled principle that costs follow event and a successful party is entitled to costs except where there are special reasons for depriving him of such entitlement and these ought to be shown by the judge. See OBAYAGBONA VS OBAZEE (1972) 5 SC 247. AMIRA NIG) LTD VS MAL (NIG) LTD. (2001) 17 NWLR (PT 742) 269 and DONATUS IDAM VS ALEX IDEMYOR MENE (2009) 17 NWLR (PT 1169) 74 … It is worthy of note that costs are not imposed as a punishment on the party who pays them, neither are they awarded as a bonus to the benefiting party. The party entitled should only be indemnified for his out of pocket expenses and be compensated for the true and fair expenses for the litigation. See BUHARI VS OBASANJO (2005) All FWLR (PT 258) 1604; KUKOYI VS ODUFALE (1965) 1 All NLR 300 and OLASOPE VS NATIONAL BANK OF NIGERIA (1985) 3 NWLR (PT 11) 147.

— S.C. Oseji, JCA. ACB v Ajugwo (2011) – CA/E/66/2006

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