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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

Supreme Court Strikes Out Perjury Suit Against Buhari

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The Supreme Court on Monday struck out the suit seeking the disqualification of President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 presidential election over alleged perjury.
The suit was filed by Kalu  Kalu, Labaran Ismail and Hassy El-Kuris, all legal practitioners.
Delivering judgment, the Justice Mary Odili-led panel of five justices held that the case was statute barred and therefore dismissed.
The Tide reports that the justices during the introduction of appearances wondered why Mr Abdullahi Abubakar, State Counsel from the Federal Ministry of Justice will be representing a private individual.
Abubakar had announced his appearance for the first respondent (General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) in the suit.
They warned him to desist from such act of using public office to defend a private litigation.
Muhammad Dattijo, while addressing the counsel cited the President Bill Clinton’s numerous private cases while in the office.
“Clinton in his numerous private litigation, he never used government organs but rather personally sponsored all his private cases,”.
He warned that his actions contravened the Code of Conduct for public servants which has consequences.
Odili in her judgment said, ‘the court notes the inappropriate appearance of Mr Abdullahi  Abubakar state counsel from the Federal Ministry of Justice, representing the first respondent Gen. Muhammad Buhari Rtd in his personal capacity.
“This practice must be discouraged, appeal have been withdrawn is hereby dismissed”, Odili said.
The justices had warned Abubakar
The appellants grievances had arisen from the dismissal of their suit at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, on grounds that it was statute barred and as such could not be heard.
They had approached the apex court to nullify the candidacy of President Buhari in the just concluded presidential poll over allegations of perjury.
The appellants specifically wanted Buhari’s nomination and subsequent victory at the Febrary 23 presidential election nullified on the grounds that President Buhari lied on oath in his form 001 that he submitted to INEC for the purpose of clearance for the presidential election.
They asked the apex court for an Order to set aside the judgment of the court of appeal and hear the matter on merit and grant the reliefs sought in the Originating Summons.
Among the reliefs sought are a declaration that Buhari submitted false information regarding his qualification and certifcate to INEC for the purpose of contesting election into the office of the President of Nigeria and that he should be disqualified.
They also prayed for an order of court directing INEC to remove Buhari’s name as a candidate of APC and another order restraining Buhari from parading himself as a candidate in the 2019 presidential election and also APC from recognising Buhari as a candidate.
The Court of Appeal in a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Mohammed Idris, had on July 12, held that the singular fact that the suit was filed outside the 14 days provided by the law robbed the court of jurisdiction to entertain the it.
The Federal High Court had in May declined to grant the request of the appellants on the grounds that the suit was not filed within the time allowed by law and therefore sustained the preliminary objection raised by Buhari at the hearing.
The appellants had through their counsel, Ukpai Ukairo, presented 12 grounds for the setting aside of the judgment of the Court of Appeal, amongst which are;
That the “Learned Justices of the Court of Appeal erred in law in relying on a Preliminary Objection withdrawn and struck out by the Court of Appeal in striking out and dismissing the appeal.

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Oil Theft: Wike Fingers Security Agencies

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has attributed the increasing spate of oil bunkering to the involvement of security agencies in the system.
Wike stated this during a visit on him by a delegation of Konrad Adencuer, a German Foundation, led by Dr Vladimir Kreck Andreas Lamnel and Dr Joachim Pifeiffer of the German Parliament in his office at Government House, Port Harcourt, Monday.
In a statement signed by the governor media aide, Simeon Nwakaudu, Wike noted that oil bunkering had continued to thrive across the country due largely to the collaboration of security agencies with the bunkerers.
Wike noted that inspite of efforts by the government to tame the situation, it has rather continued to worsen courtesy of security agencies involvement.
The governor said “some of the security agencies are involved in oil theft. When you talk about oil bunkering, the security agencies are involved. They are fully involved.
Wike however maintained that the partnership of fee federal government with the state government would foster the success of the fight against oil bunkering saying if the federal government cones strongly and partner the states, we will solve some of the problems”.
While noting that the politicization of security was also a militating factor against oil theft fight, Wike said that the security framework of the state was negatively affected by oil majors whom he said patronize cult groups for surveillance jobs revealing however, that the state security council was liasing with oil majors to stop the patronage.
“We have told oil majors to patronize official state security agencies and stop patronizing cult groups for surveillance jobs. This is because part of the problem is the continued patronage of these cult groups”, he said.

 

Lady Godknows Ogbulu

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Police Officers Are Doing Everything To Curtail Criminality – PPRO

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The police say they are trying their possible best to reduce cultism, kidnapping, and armed robbery but insist that crime still increases day by day.
Speaking with The Tide, the Rivers State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Nnamdi Omoni in Port Harcourt said yesterday that police officers had to contend with the menace of cultism in the State.
Omoni also said that the police officers had tried their best to curtail armed robbery and  kidnapping but the crimes had remained inspite of their efforts. He noted that officers were in place to decimate cult boys that were creating issues with their rivals in most identified communities.
He, however, advised communities to cooperate with police officers around their vicinity to help maintain peace.
Omoni added that there were many reasons to curtail criminal activities so all houses should be on deck and urged the collaboration of community members with the police officers and vigilanties to help assist in terms of information dissemination.

 

Kpobari Barizaa

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