THE SIGNIFICANCE OF INJUNCTIONS IN THE DISPENSATION OF JUSTICE IN NIGERIA
The topic of this research is „THE SIGNIFICANCE OF INJUNCTIONS IN THE DISPENSATION OF JUSTICE IN NIGERIA‟. Injunctions are court orders prohibiting someone from doing some specified act or commanding someone to undo some wrong or injury. Injunctions are ordinarily and properly elicited from proceedings in courts. The main feature of injunction is the maintenance of the res or statusquo that is the subject matter of the dispute or litigation. The problem treated in this research work arose from the literature reviewed and the practical experience of the writer in the area of the research. The legal requirements and procedure for applying for the grant of the equitable remedy of the injunction are so difficult to be met by an applicant for the injunctive order, requirements such as the need that an applicant must prove that he has a legal right to be protected over the subject matter he is seeking an injunction for. This research work critically looked at this problem with the view to proffering solutions to them. This research work aimed at identifying the significance of the equitable remedies of interim and interlocutory injunctions in justice dispensation in Nigeria. Furthermore, the objectives of this research work set out to achieve include; critical discussion and analysis of interim and interlocutory injunctions. The methodology employed in this research work is mainly doctrinal. It has been conducted mostly in the library through the use of both primary and secondary sources of law. It has been observed that there exist a fundamental contradiction of legal conflict between the constitutional doctrine of Audialterapatem rule for the fair hearing of all the parties before the court decide on a matter on the one part and the rules of courts and the various High court Rules which specifically provide and empower the courts to hear one party, consider and grant or refuse the application where the court is faced with an application for interim injunction. It is recommended that the two legal principles be allowed to subsist as each one is important for the determination of the case.
The process of instituting an action in court in order to redress a wrong takes
considerable time. Owing to the peculiar state of affairs in Nigeria, calling the court
into action to determine the respective rights of parties consumes considerable time
with possible harm to the subject matter of the suit. The subject matter in law is
commonly referred to as the “res”. The res, in deserving circumstances would need to
be preserved from waste, destruction or dissipation by any of the parties.
The history of injunction could be traced to the later part of the 16th century
when quarrel between common and Chancery over the power of the Chancery to issue
injunction in the cases before it became manifest1. Justice Coke was the Chief Judge
of the Common Law Counts while Lord Ellesmere was the Lord Chancellor in
Chancery. Chancery‟s jurisdiction was challenged by Justice Coke, notably its power
to grant common injunction restraining the enforcement of judgment decided by the
Common law courts. Justice Coke threatened to issue a writ of prohibition against
Chancery‟s interference with judgments/decisions of the Common law courts by its
issuance of common injunction2.
Nevertheless, Lord Ellesmere of the Chancery division pronounced that
Chancery had the power to grant common injunction against the judgments of the
Common law courts that were oppressive or without conscience. The conflict was
settled in the case of Earl of Oxford which was decided in favour of the Chancery that
it can give an injunction against the judgments of the Common law courts.
1 Koddinye, G. An Introduction to Equity in Nigeria. Spectrums Books Limited, Ibadan (2008)P. 3
2 Usman A. K., the Law and Practice of Equity and Trust, Faith International Printers, Zaria (2012) P. 12.
The ruling in the case Earl of Oxford was also to the effect that equity should
prevail whenever there is a conflict between it and common law. However, after series
of deliberations to gain autonomy for the Chancery by Lords Ellesmere and others,
Common Law Procedure Acts of 1854 and 1860 also empowered the Common Law
Counts to apply the rules of equity to cases before them, regardless of those rules
being in disagreement with the established common law rules. This was done to solve
the incidence of double litigation in respect of the same cause of action3. This is in
order to save litigants time and expenses in the cause of litigation. In another vain,
Chancery courts were empowered to decide all actions of common law without
making any reference to the Common Law court. By Chancery Amendment Act of
1852, limited power was also given to Chancery in some cases such as awarding
damages in addition or in lieu of injunction and breach of contract.
Nonetheless, the entire reform was represented by the Judicature Acts of 1873
to 1875 and the Administration of Justice Act of 1880. All existing superior courts
were abolished by the above mentioned Acts and in their place Supreme Court of