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Memory Lane History Of Equity

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The period immediately after the Norman conquest saw the birth and the early growth of the common law. It was one of the  great achievements of the Norman Kings that, under their rule, a system of law “common” to the whole of England was consolidated. These laws were administered by the King’s justices on circuit and by the three common law courts (King’s Bench, common pleas and Exchequer).

A key figure in the administration of justice was the lord chancellor, one of whose functions was the issuing of royal writs  which began every action at common law. The rule was that a plaintiff had no cause of action unless his claim came within the scope of an existing writ.

By issuing new writs and varying existing ones, the chancellor was able to influence the development of the common law. Nevertheless, this influence was a limited one since even if a plaintiff acquired a writ to fit his claim, the writ could be declared invalid by a common law judge,. By about 1250 the common law judges were becoming more conservative in their attitude to new developments, and the practice of declaring new writs to be invalid increased, culminating in the provisions of Oxford 1258, which provided that no new writ was to be issued without the consent of the council, the King’s governing body.

These fetters on the growth of the law were loosened somewhat by the statute of Westminister II 1285 but the position was still highly unsatisfactory in that a plaintiff, even if he did obtain a suitable writ, might yet be defeated by the power or influence of his opponent, since in those harsh times “might” all too often meant “right”.

A plaintiff who failed to obtain redress through lack of a remedy or failure to administer it could petition the King council, praying that the king might exercise his wide discretionary power to do justice among his subjects. It was the chancellor, as the king’s chief minister, who dealt with these petitions. Gradually the chancellor came to determine matters raised in the petitions independently of the king in council, so that, by the end of the 15th century, petitions were addressed directly to him, the issues were tried in his own court, and decrees were made in his name. This was the beginning of the equitable jurisdiction of the court of chancery.

In the early days of chancery jurisdiction, there were no set rules or procedures. The chancellor decided each case on its merits and according to “conscience,” and his judgments were founded not on precedent but on his own individual sense of right and wrong, hence the famous remark of John Selden.

“Equity is a roguish thing. For law we have a measure … equity is according to the conscience of him that is chancellor, and as that is longer or narrower, so is equity. ‘Tis all one as if they should make the standard for the measure a chancellor’s foot.”

That equitable decrees were originally based on “conscience” is not surprising in view of the fact that almost all the early chancellors were bishops, concerned more with relieving hardship in individual cases than with formulating a body of defined rules and principles. It was not until chancellors began to be drawn from the ranks of lawyers that precedents began to appear and rules were laid down.

This process began with Lord Ellesmere (1596-1617) and was continued by Lord Nottingham (1673-82) known as the “Father of Equity”, under whose chancellorship many of the modern principles of Equity were systemized. There then followed lord Hardwicke (1737-56) and finally, lord Eldon (1801-27). All these chancellors were under their guidance. Equity should have developed from its original formlessness into a system of rules almost as rigid as the common law itself – Kodilinye, G.

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Law/Judiciary

Five Feared Killed In Fresh Kaduna Attack

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A Sunday evening attack by gunmen on Unguwan Magaj community in Kauru Local Council of Kaduna State may have left four indigenes dead and 36 homes torched.
But the bravery of the youths reportedly led to the death of one of the attackers and confiscation of his handset.
Useful information was said to have been retrieved from the phone that had allegedly been handed over to the police.
In a statement yesterday, the National Public Relations Officer of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), Luka Biniyat, said: “The invaders, who came by 6:45 pm yesterday (Sunday) from behind the hills that serve as the boundary of Kaduna State and Ganawuri, Plateau State, were numbered over a 100.
“They attacked from four flanks, causing pandemonium among unsuspecting villagers as the youths tried to fend them off.”
He continued: “After about 30 minutes of violence, the following were unfortunately killed: Mrs Hanatu Joseph, 58, mother of five children; Mrs Sarah Sunday, 40, she left behind her husband and six children.
“The others are: Mrs Dije Sajay, 55, married with six children; and Mr Sunday David, 47, married with seven children. He was a retrenched civil servant.”
He noted: “The attackers targeted food stores and bans of grains, making sure they burnt as much as they could. This is to ostensibly cause starvation, especially under this lockdown from the Coronavirus.
“Police and soldiers came into Unguwan Magaji only this morning (yesterday) around 9 am and saw the corpse of the dead herdsman, which they later took away.”
Besides, Biniyat said: “Early this month yesterday, Ibrahim Atiga, 42, a native of Unguwan Magaji, was killed by herdsmen on his way to the farm. He has since been buried.”

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COVID-19: Nigerian Correctional Service Receives 2nd Batch Of PPE

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The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), Lagos State Command, yesterday said the state government had released the second batch of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the service.
The Spokesman of the command, Supt. Rotimi Oladoku, made this known in an interview with newsmen in Lagos.
The Tide reports that the items donated were hand gloves, face marks, inferred thermometers and sanitisers.
Oladokun said the gesture was part of the preventive measures taken by the state government, especially at custodial centers, to contain the spread of the virus.
“The first set of the PPE was released to the command on March 27 and the command also received the second bath on April 20,” he said.
According to Oladokun, the Lagos State NCoS Controller, Mr Sam Iyakoregha, received the items on behalf of the Controller-General of NCoS, Ahmed Ja’afaru.
“The NCoS thanks the Lagos State government for this tremendous support. The NCoS is well positioned to prevent COVID-19 in the custodial centres,” he said.

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I’ll Give Special Attention To Respect For Citizens’ Fundamental Rights – CP …Citizens Set Agenda For Him

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The new Rivers State  Commissioner of Police, Mr Joseph Mukan has said that he would give special  attention to  respect for citizens’ fundamental human rights in the state.
This was contained in a statement issued by the  Public Relations Officer of the Rivers State Police  Command, DSP Nnamdi Omoni and made available to newsmen last Monday in Port Harcourt .
The statement said that Mr Mukan would rekindle the people’s confidence in the police and as well reposition the command for efficiency and productivity.
According to the statement, the new Police Commissioner would be expected to work with humility and integrity as part of efforts to command a better police force in the state.
It further revealed that the Rivers police boss has an impeccable track record in crime fighting, thus the trust to make good his promises.
The Rivers State Commissioner of Police, however, through the statement, solicited for cooperation in terms of information sharing from the people in order to help the command to serve them better.
Meanwhile, some members of the public have called on the new Police Commissioner to remain neutral and face his primary assignment of policing.
A Port Harcourt-Based lawyer, Emperor Nnaoma, who spoke in an interview with The Tide , yesterday, said Mr Mukan must pay priority attention to his core mandate of crime fighting, if he wants to succeed in the state.
Nnaoma, recalled that previous Commissioners of Police who went outside their major task never ended well in the state.
In his view, the Eze Oha Evo III of Evo Kingdom, King Leslie N Eke, said the Commissioner should make out time to check the activities of some of his men who allow themselves into chieftaincy issues in the communities.
The Eze Gbakagbaka/Nyerisi Eli Woji, said that such interference has divided the attention of some police officers in the state as they are always tempted to dance to the tune of their pay masters.

 

By: King Onunwor

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