THE CONTROVERSY WITHIN: CONFLICTING JUDGMENTS OF THE SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA ON ADMISSIBILITY OF UNREGISTERED REGISTERABLE INSTRUMENT
This article examined the state of the Nigeria law concerning the effect of non-registration of a registrable instrument affecting land, as required by the Registration of Land Instrument Law of the components states within the Nigerian Federation. Through the lens of the Supreme Court’s approach to the interpretation of the respective land instrument registration law of the state, the paper revealed that the courts looked beyond the Registration of Land Instrument Law itself to arrive at the just and equitable decisions. The paper revealed that there are two contradictory judgements from Supreme Courts, in one, the Supreme Court overruled its previous decisions on constitutional ground arguing that since the 1979 and the 1999 Constitutions the power of the component states from legislating on matters relating to the Evidence Act and the admissibility of evidence in any proceedings before the court had been expunged. In the second case, however, the Supreme Court restored the previous position of the law, without any reference to the first case that was decided by the full court of the apex court. Also in the latter case, the Supreme Court failed to examine the constitutional effects of the 1979 and the 1999 Constitutions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the admissibility of such unregistered registrable instrument. The paper built upon these works of writers like Shannon, Kaminker, Lee to explore on the adequacies and otherwise of the court’s decision and to provide a roadmap that would form the compass to navigate the precedential problems engendered by the twocontradictory decisions of the Nigerian apex court. The paper goes on to analyze the decisions and revealed that despite the contradictory judgments of the court, the interest of justice had not been obliterated. The paper concluded that the apex court should be more forthcoming to set aside its previous decision when the interest of justice so demand, Nigeria being a federation practising the presidential system with characteristical constitutional supremacy rather than the Westminster model with parliamentary supremacy.
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