Prince Abubakar Audu & Anor V. Captain Idris Wada & Ors (2012)
LAWGLOBAL HUB Lead Judgment Report
MAHMUD MOHAMMED, J.S.C.
The Applicants Motion is for an order of this court extending the time within which the applicants may file their Notice of Appeal against the Judgment of the Court of Appeal delivered on July 14th 2012. The application is supported by an 18 paragraph affidavit to which the judgment of the court of Appeal of 14/7/2012 and the Notice of appeal filed on 2/8/2012 were exhibited.
However, the 1st and 2nd Respondents together with the 3rd Respondent have raised Preliminary Objection that this Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the application and grant the same in view of the present state of the law regarding the application having regard to the entire circumstances of this matter. That having regard to the provisions of the Practice Directions No. 33 of 2011 which must be observed and applied by this Court in the hearing and determination of Election Appeals from the Court of Appeal which prescribes 14 days within which to file their appeal, this Court does not have the jurisdiction to hear this application extending the time for the applicants to file their Notice of Appeal.
Paragraph 1 of the Practice Directions No. 33 of 2011 states:-
“The Appellant shall file in the Registry of the Court of Appeal his Notice and grounds of appeal within 14 days from the date of the decision appealed against.”
The application of this provision has been considered by this Court in the case of C.P.C. V. INEC (2011) 18 NWLR (pt.1279) 493 where this court held that the unambiguous words used in that paragraph of the Practice Direction 2011, show that Section 285(7) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and paragraph 1 of the Practice Directions have the status of limitation laws and must be applied as such. The paragraph gives the appellants 14 days to file their appeal. There is no dispute that the Judgment of the court of Appeal sought to be appealed against, was delivered on 14/7/2012. The appellants did not file their Notice and grounds of appeal until 2/8/2012. The applicants Notice of appeal was therefore not filed within the time prescribed by the practice Directions. The applicants appeal is therefore incompetent and cannot be heard.
The question now is whether this court can extend the time for the appellants to allow this court to hear their appeal. The answer is of course in the negative. The practice Directions prescribing 14 days to file the Notice and grounds of appeal also having been made pursuant to Sections 236, 233(2) (e) of the constitution to enable this court to hear election appeals within 60 days prescribed by Section 285(7) of the constitution, granting the applicants application shall be quite contrary to the practice Directions and the constitution itself which was amended to give Election Petitions and appeals expeditious hearing. I therefore hold that this court has no jurisdiction to grant the application to extend the time to appeal.
In any case even on the merit of the application, the affidavit of the applicants in support of the application has not disclosed any cogent and valid reasons for the appellant’s failure to file their appeal within the time allowed.
Reasons of the failure of the applicants to receive the copy of the judgment in time cannot be relied upon to obtain the discretion of this court. The affidavit of the applicants has not even addressed the second requirement of granting such application that the Notice of appeal contained grounds of appeal which show good reasons why the appeal must be heard. Thus the requirement of the law not having been met, the application must fail.
Granting the application will certainly result in pulling out the practice Direction out of the root of the Provisions of the constitution in sections 233(2)(e) and 285(7) of the 1999 constitution, which were specifically made to ensure expeditious hearing and determination of Election Petitions and appeal arising from such cases.
In the result, as this court has no power to extend the time to appeal as prescribed in paragraph 1 of the practice Direction No. 33 of 2011 and that even on the merit, the application has no chance whatsoever in succeeding in the circumstances of this case, the application is hereby refused and the same is hereby dismissed with no order on costs. Consequently, there is no appeal before this Court.