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Justice Rhodes-Vivour seeks abolition of doctrine of Precedent in Supreme Court judgment

By on March 22, 2021 0 136 Views

A retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Olabode Rhodes-Vivour is seeking the discontinuation of the doctrine of Precedent or stare decisis, saying some previous judgment of the apex court “no longer make sense.”

Rhodes-Vivour, who mandatorily retired on Monday as he clocked 79-years of age, said; “There are some Precedents that are clearly out of date, and should no longer be followed.

He spoke at a valedictory session help in his honour at the Supreme Court.
According to him, the Supreme Court had on several occasions, held that it is absolutely bound by the doctrine of Precedent or stare decisis.

He said the doctrine, in effect, means “stand by your decisions and the decisions of your predecessors, however wrong they are and whatever injustices they inflict.”

But he said abiding by such principle would ensure that the apex court continued to follow some of its previous judgments that no longer make sense.

“I am of the view that Precedents that no longer make sense anymore or are outdated should be laid to rest and never followed.”

Rhodes-Vivour also canvassed the amendment of the Electoral Act to shift the burden of proof to INEC to prove that it conducted a fair and reasonable election.

Citing a judgment he delivered in 2016, in an election dispute that involved the Governor of Cross River State, Emmanuel Udom, he pointed out that careful reading and understanding of decided authorities would show that a Petitioner has an uphill task proving his petition in accordance with the Electoral Act.

The retired jurist further observed that elections in the country are always protracted due to the fact that the stakes are usually high.

He noted that most elections are often resolved by the courts, simply because most politicians are never satisfied with the results announced by the regulatory body charged with the conduct of elections.”

On the issue of corruption, Justice Rhodes-Vivour stressed that it exists in all the countries of the earth, adding that Nigeria is no exception.

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He said what should be done was to reduce it drastically, “thereby making our dear country an exception by building credible and transparent systems”.

The jurist also reversed himself on a judgment delivered in 2006 on National Security, saying “No one should be denied his rights on the whims and fancy of anyone in authority.”

He made reference to the judgment delivered while serving as a Justice of the Court of Appeal, in the case of Dokubo-Asari Vs FRN where he held that where National Security is threatened or there is the real likelihood of it being threatened, human rights or the individual rights, must be suspended until the National Security can be protected or well taken care of.

He said national security must be visibly threatened before anyone is denied his rights.

On the issue of convicts, Justice Rhodes-Vivour said he was of the view that they should be allowed to serve their prison terms only after their appeals are exhausted.

“The reason being that some convicts serve several years in prison before their appeals are heard and decided.

“Their appeal may be found to be meritorious. They are then released. No compensation paid for the time spent in prison.”

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