JUDICIAL PRECEDENT : Grounds on which supreme court's decision can be reversed and effect thereof.

"I find it necessary to stress in very clear terms that Supreme Court has no power, extra judicially, to overrule, reverse or nullify its previous decisions whether on questions of substantive or procedural law.

Such previous decisions may inter alia only be annulled by legislation or by a judicial decision of the court, given intra judicially when it is satisfied, again inter alia, that the previous decision was given per incuriam or would perpetuate injustice.

See Bucknor - Maclean v. Inlaks Ltds. (1980) 8 - 11S.C. 1; (1980) All NLR 184. This court has neither overruled, reversed or nullified its previous or pre-1982 decisions on the issue of the court's exercise of discretion whether on questions of substantive or procedural law.
These decisions have neither been annulled by legislation nor by a judicial decision of this court given intra-judicially.

It therefore seems to me clear that the said recognized principles upon which application for extension of time were granted prior to the issuance of the Practice Directions of 1982 remain good law and applicable. Indeed, in the University of Lagos case, Obaseki, JSC commented inter alia as follows: 'I do not think that the court today will depart from course of justice if culpable negligence or inadvertence of counsel is established by any litigant'.

That amounts to exceptional circumstances derserving of the court's most sympathetic consideration. The appellant in this appeal with due respect, has failed to show us that the decision in Ekwunife v. Wayne (West Africa) Ltd. (1989) 5 NWLR (Pt. 122) 422; (1989) 3 NSCC, 352; (1989) 12 SCNJ 99, was reached per incuriam or that it perpetuated any injustice or that it has been annulled by legislation or by a judicial decision of this court given intra judicially.

See Long-John v. Blakk (1998) 5 SCNJ 68 at page 86." Per Iguh. A reversal of the earlier decision of this court can, given rise to instability of the rules of judicial precedent, particularly those governing stare decisis, this court must be convinced that its earlier decision was clearly and patently wrong.

In considering that, this court will closely examine the facts of the decision it is called upon to reverse in the light of the facts of the case calling for the reversal.
This is because facts are the fountain head of the law and cases are not decided in a vacuo or in a vacuum but in relation to the particular facts of the case before the court.

"The law is that ordinarily, this court adheres to the principles of stare decisis. It will therefore hold itself bound by its previous decisions. But where it is satisfied that any of its previous decisions is erroneous or was reached per incuriam and will amount to injustice to reach per incuriam and will amount to injustice to perpetuate the error by following such decision, it will overrule it or depart from it".
This power of the Supreme Court is predicated on the fact that it is better to admit an error than to persevere in error.

See Adesokan v. Adetunji 1994) 5 NWLR (Pt. 346) 540, Johnson v. Lawanson (1971) 1 All NLR 56; (1971) 1 NMLR 380, Odi v. Osafile (1985) 1 NWLR (Pt. 1) 17, Adegoke Motors Ltd. v. Adesanya (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt. 109) 250, Ishola v. Ajiboye (1994) 6 NWLR (Pt. 352) 506; (1994) 7 - 8 SCNJ (Pt. 1) 1, Akinsanya v. UBA (2001) 42 WRN 67; (1986) 7 S.C. (Pt. 1) 233; (1986) 17 NSCC (Pt. 2) 968; (1986) 4 NWLR (Pt. 33) 273 and Bucknor-Maclean v. Inlaks Ltd. (1980) 8 - 11 S.C. 1; (1980) All NLR 184." Per Muhammad, Tobi and Akintan, JSC

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