For litigants, enjoying the fruits of judgement is crucial and uncompromising. We believe that a key overriding function of the judicial process is to enable the judgment creditor to reap the fruits of judgment with every sense of due satisfaction and where necessary have compensation, performance, compliance, and restitution. Nevertheless, there have been instances such as this, where judgements of courts are either frustrated and/or ignored. Such challenges in the judicial process are overwhelming experiences for litigants and indeed a stigma for the justice delivery sector.

It is trite that even our Courts have a duty not to deprive a successful litigant of the fruit of his litigation. This can be found in the case of  A.E. S.S. Ltd v. Aina Adeosun & Sons Ltd (1993) 5 NWLR (Pt 293) 377 @ 382. This duty with respect finds legal empowerment in the existing Judgment Enforcement Procedure Rules such as the Sheriff and Civil Process Act where the means of enforcement can be achieved to prevent extrajudicial means of enforcement.

It is even a settled law that a court of law has the jurisdiction to protect its judgment from being ridiculed or disparaged. Therefore, where an application intends to make nonsense of its judgement, it must stoutly stand against that line of action. Okoya v. Santilli (1991) 7 NWLR (Pt 206) 753 @ 770.  If the courts can be bound by this, why should a judicial officer or staff be seen to be a hindrance to a creditor in reaping the fruits of judgment? Their discretion (staffs of court) in line with the law is very paramount here, and this is absent at present.

It is my final submission on this, that the acts of truncating the process of enforcement, especially where one is within the ambit of the law are very dangerous. It is also sad that it appears to be seen that the courts hold judgment creditors to ransom based on a notice of appeal when the position of the law has always been that a notice of appeal does not and should never operate as a stay of execution. 

I make bold to further conclude, that in any society where rule of law thrives, regard for justice and the judicial system is paramount. Enforcing the judgment of courts quickly, conscientiously, and easily within any society is regarded as the key component of stabilizing the equilibrium of society. Perhaps, allowing situations like this, which deprive the benefits of judgment encourages resort to self-help, and same would do more harm than good. Most especially in a democratic society, respect for rule of law and established techniques ought to wade off any contrary operations.

Olajide Abiodun Esq.

(Master of the Rolls)


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