Circumstances in which a court may invoke its inherent power to set aside its judgment or order are:- (1) To correct any clerical error or mistakes arising from accidental slip or omission or to vary the judgment or order so as to give effect to its meaning or intention under the Rules of Court Order 5 rule 3 Court of Appeal Rules, 1981. (2) Until a court pronounces a judgment on merit or by consent of the parties a court retains the power to set aside its default judgment obtained in the absence of one of the parties or default of pleadings – The power to do so is however discretionary and has to be exercised judiciously. Mohammed v. Husseini (1998) 14 NWLR (Pt.584) 130; paragraphs D-E. Williams v. Hope Rising Voluntary Funds Society (1982) 1-2 SC 145; (3) Where a judgment has been obtained as a result of fraud practiced by one of the parties Ojiaka v. Ogueze(1962) 1 SCNLR 112, (1962) 1 All NLR 58; Ekerete v. Eke (1925) 6 NLR 118; Craig v. Kanseen (1943) K.B. 256; Agunbiade v. Okunoga (1961) 1 All NLR 110. (4) Where a judgment is a nullity, due to a fundamental defect which goes to the issue of jurisdiction and competence of the court. J. A. Folorunso v. Shaloub (1994) 3 NWLR (Pt.333) 413 at 422, paragraphs G-H; Skenconsult (Nig.) Ltd. Ukey (1981) 1 SC 6.

— O.O. Adekeye, JCA. Omotunde v. Omotunde (2000) – CA/I/M.57/2000

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I must not, I believe, confuse it with the meaning attached to the word in England where it refers to the speech or a whole judgment of a Law Lord delivered in the Rouse of Lords, or in the United States where it refers to the entire judgment of a superior court. It is in the context of the use of the word with reference to the United States and House of Lords’ decision that Black’s Law Dictionary (5th Edn.) at p.985 defined “opinion” as- The statement by a Judge or Court of the decision reached in regard to a cause tried or argued before them expounding the law as applied to the case and detailing the reasons upon which the judgment is based. This equates an “opinion” to the entire decision, which would include other parts of a judgment. But clearly the appellants are not saying that the Court of Appeal on the second hearing should have simply rubber-stamped and handed down again the previous decision of that court differently constituted. A more relevant definition of the word “opinion” in the sense it is used in this appeal is to be found in Words and Phrases Permanent Edition Vol. 29A at pp. 495-496 where “opinion” was defined thus: “An ‘opinion’ of the court is a statement by the court of its reasons for its findings, conclusions, or judgment. I adopt this, and only add that it also includes not only the reasons but also such findings or conclusions in such a judgment. So, an “opinion” is the reasoning and conclusion of a Judge on the issue or issues in contention before him. It is in this context that I shall consider the real points raised by this appeal.

— P. Nnaemeka-Agu JSC. Gbaniyi Osafile v. Paul Odi (SC 149/1987, 4th day of May 1990)

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A consequential order is an order founded on the claim of the successful party. In other words, a consequential order is one which is not merely incidental to a decision properly made, but one which is merely to give effect to that decision. – Karibe-Whyte JSC. Awoniyi v. AMORC (2000)

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The law is that the conclusion of the trial Court on the facts is presumed to be correct, so that presumption must be displaced by the person seeking to upset the judgment on the facts.

– Ogakwu, J.C.A Fijabi v. FBN (2021)

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The law is settled that the judgment of any competent Court, once perfected, and not appealed against, is valid and subsisting until it is set aside by competent Court or authority.

– Kekere-ekun JSC. Adegbanke v. Ojelabi (2021)

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I must observe that in trying to answer these important questions, learned counsel for the respondents tried to take umbrage under the statement of Lord Denning in Macfoy v. United African Co. Ltd. (1961) 3 W.L.R. 1405 at p.1409, P.C. where he said: Any purported exercise of any function being without any legal or Constitutional authority was null and void and of no effect. . .” If an act is void, then it is in law a nullity. It is not only bad but incurably bad. There is no need for an order of the court to set it aside. It is automatically null and void without much ado, though it is sometimes convenient to have the court declare it to be so. And every proceeding, which is founded on it, is also bad and incurably bad. You cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stay there. It will collapse. With respects to the learned counsel for the respondents, it appears to me that the very eminent Lord Justice’s aim in this much misquoted and misapplied dictum was again talking of the effect in law of a judgment being declared void. It is “automatically null and void without more ado” and every proceeding which is founded on it is also bad and incurably bad.” His Lordship did not say that it ceases to exist as a fact. I agree with Chief Williams that there is a world of difference between saying that a judgment has no legal effect or consequences and saying that it is non-existent; between giving a judgment which is a nullity because, say, it was given without jurisdiction and saying that no judgment was given at all. The learned Justice of Appeal was, therefore, in error when he held that because the previous judgment of the Court of Appeal had been nullified by this court-for having been delivered more than three months of the conclusion of the final addresses, it follows that the judgment was non-existent. In my view, although, by its being declared a nullity, the judgment had no more any legal effect, it continued to exist de facto.

— P. Nnaemeka-Agu JSC. Gbaniyi Osafile v. Paul Odi (SC 149/1987, 4th day of May 1990)

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A Declaratory judgment or order is one that proclaims or declares the existence of a legal relationship, but does not contain any order which may be enforced against the defendant. Once rights declared in a declaratory judgment are infringed fresh proceedings are needed for enforcement. Declaratory judgments cannot be enforced by execution, as there is nothing to enforce. So where a court delivers a declaratory judgment, the party appealing may be granted an injunction if he deserves it but never a stay of execution pending the determination of the appeal.

– Rhodes-Vivour, JSC. Olabomi v. Oyewinle (2013) – SC.345/2012

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