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Home » Nigerian Cases » Supreme Court » Prof. Steve Torkuma Ugba & Ors V. Gabriel Torwua Suswam & Ors (2012) LLJR-SC

Prof. Steve Torkuma Ugba & Ors V. Gabriel Torwua Suswam & Ors (2012) LLJR-SC

Prof. Steve Torkuma Ugba & Ors V. Gabriel Torwua Suswam & Ors (2012)

LAWGLOBAL HUB Lead Judgment Report

OLU ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.

This appeal is against the judgment of the court of Appeal, Makurdi Judicial Division, (hereinafter called the court below), delivered on the 12th day of April, 2012 in an interlocutory appeal filed by the Appellants against the Ruling of the Benue state Governorship Election Tribunal, Holden at Makurdi, delivered on 13th February, 2012 in Petition No. GET/BN/02/2011.

The court below on the 19th September, 2011 had allowed the appeal filed by the present Respondents and struck out the petition of the Appellants before the Election Tribunal for improper commencement of pre-hearing session.

The Appellants appealed to this court and on the 14th November, 2011, this court in appeal No.SC.360/2011 allowed the appeal and ordered the petition to be heard on the merits. It is note worthy that this court in the appeal, confined itself to the sole issue of whether paragraph 47 (1) of the 1st schedule to the Electoral Act, 2010 was applicable to an application under paragraph 18 (1) and (3) of the same schedule.

When the matter came up again before the trial tribunal as ordered, with a new panel, the Appellants brought an application filed an 28/01/2012 seeking, inter alia, the following reliefs:

“(a)…

(b)…

(c) An order restoring ground three of the petition and hearing and determining same on the merits pursuant to the directive/order of the Supreme Court.

(d) An order entering judgment against the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Respondents in respect of Ground 3 of this petition in favour of the Petitioners.”

(See page 711 of the record – Vol. II)

In its considered ruling, notwithstanding the vigorous objection by the Respondents, the tribunal granted the restoration of ground three of the petition earlier struck out, as sought but refused to enter judgment against the Respondents in favour of the Appellants as Petitioners.

Aggrieved by the refusal to enter judgment in their favor against the Respondents, the Appellants appealed on that sole ground.

However, on the 28th February, 2012, the Tribunal applied the decision of this court in Action Alliance V. INEC & 4 ors in Appeal No. SC.23/2012 delivered on 14/2/2012 and the consolidated appeals of All Nigeria Peoples Party V. Alhaji Mohammed Goni & Ors (2012) 7 NWLR (pt.1298) 147 and struck out the appellants’ petitions.

The petitioners were dissatisfied and therefore filed their appeals on 29/2/2012 and 12/3/2012. The court below on 24/4/2012 based on the Preliminary Objection of the Respondents that the appeal had become an academic exercise had struck out the appeal.

Aggrieved by the order of the court below which struck out the interlocutory appeal led to the instant appeal, SC.191/2012 which was filed on 4/5/2012 on eight (8) grounds of appeal.

Parties filed and exchanged briefs of argument. The appellants abandoned their ground eight (8) of the grounds of appeal and distilled five (5) issues from the remaining seven (7) grounds of appeal.

At the hearing of the appeal on the 4th June, 2012 the 3rd Respondent through its counsel J.S. Okutepa, SAN indicated that he had a Preliminary Objection in respect of appeal No. SC.191/2012 He filed a separate Notice to that effect on 28/5/2012 and also raised it in the brief of argument filed on 01/06/2012 but deemed as properly filed and served on 04/6/2012. He sought leave of court to move his objection.

Mr. Akeredolu, learned senior counsel to the appellants referred to the Appellant’s reply brief of argument in response to the merits of the 3rd Respondent’s preliminary objection. The said reply was filed within time on 4/6/2012 only for SC. 191/2012.

It was later agreed by both parties that since the three appeals (SC. 191/2012, SC.191A/2012 and SC.192/2012) are based on the same decision of the court below; the preliminary objection should be taken first and ruled upon.

Learned senior counsel to the 3rd Respondent referred to his brief of argument, adopted and relied on same for the objection, argument in support of which is on pages 3-10 of the said brief of argument. As per appeal No. SC.191/2012, the Preliminary Objection is predicated on the following grounds.

*The appeal in its entirety constitute academic exercise as the appeal seeks reliefs which are unconstitutional and which this Honourable court will not grant in view of the lapses of 180 days within which judgment must be delivered from the date the petition on which the appeal is predicated was filed before the trial tribunal.

*The appellants by their own admission before this Honourable Court in Appeal No. SC.62/2012, SC.62A/2012 and SC.63/2012, Peoples Democratic Party V. Senator Daniel Saror & Ors Hon. Gabriel T. Suswan V. Senator Daniel Saror and Ors, Peoples Democratic Party v. Prof. Steve Torkuma Ugba & ors in the proceedings of 29/3/2012 admitted that any appeal arising from the Benue State Election Petition Tribunal in petition No. GET/BN/02/2011 is academic exercise, in view of the fact that the trial tribunal had on the 28/2/2012 struck out the petition of the appellants.

*It is a gross abuse of process and expensive academic exercise for these same appellants who had admitted through their counsel, S. A. Orkumah Esq. before this Honourable Court in Appeals Nos. SC.62/2012, SC.62A/2012 and SC.63/2012 Peoples Democratic Party vs. Senator Daniel Saror & Ors, Hon Gabriel T. Suswam v. Senator Daniel I. Saror & ors, Peoples Democratic Party V. Prof. Steve Torkuma Ugba & Ors in the proceedings of 29/3/2012, that any appeal arising from the decision of the Benue State Election Petition Tribunal in petition No. GET/BN/02/2011, after 28/2/2012 when the petition was struck out would tantamount to an abused of court process and an academic exercise, to turn round to file this appeal before the same court.

Based on the above grounds, the 3rd Respondent sought an order dismissing the appeal in its entirety and or in limine.

Learned senior counsel contended that there is no dispute that this court in its unreported cases of Action Alliance Vs. INEC & ors, Appeal No.SC23/2012 delivered on 14/2/2012 Amadi V. INEC & Ors. Appeal No. SC.476/2011 and the consolidated appeal No.SC.1/2012 and SC.2/2012 held that by Section 285 (6) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) all petitions filed must be heard and determined within 180 days from the date of filing.

Learned Senior Counsel further contended that there is no dispute that the appellants’ petition was filed on the 17th May, 2011.

By operation of Section 285 (6) of the 1999 constitution (as amended), the possibility of entertaining or deciding the petition of the appellants became constitutionally barred on the 12th day of November, 2011.

It is also not in dispute that the tribunal on the 28/2/2012 struck out the petition of the appellants before it, following the judgments of this court. He referred to the decisions of this court in Action Alliance V. INEC & Ors. Appeal No.SC 23/2012 delivered on 14/2/2012 and ANPP v. Goni (2012) 7 NWLR (Pt.1298) 147 at 183.

Learned senior counsel submitted that the appeal has been overtaken by events and has completely become academic outside the jurisdiction of this honourable court.

Learned senior counsel contended that as at the time the appellants transmitted the records of appeal in this appeal on 4/5/2012 and filed their brief of argument on 16/5/2012 there was no pending petition before the tribunal neither was there any basis upon which an appeal or a hearing of the petition could be founded. He referred to appeal No. SC. 63/2012 which was consolidated and heard with other appeals No. 62/2012 and SC.62A/2012 in which the present appellants were the 1st and 2nd Respondents where on 29/3/2012 in the proceedings of that date, learned counsel to the Appellants herein had pointed out to this court then that the said appeals were academic and that this court had no jurisdiction to entertain them. The court agreed with the counsel and then dismissed the appeals on that day.

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Learned Senior counsel submitted that the appellants herein have chosen to deliberately abuse the processes of this court to irritate and annoy not only the 3rd Respondent but this court as well. He further submitted that no court has jurisdiction to decide academic or hypothetical question. He relied on Yar’Adua V. Abubakar (2009) All FWLR (pt.460) 672 at 677, Plateau State V. Attorney General of the Federation (2006) ALL FWLR (Pt.305) 590 at 646-647, Sambo V. Alikero (2010) ALL FWLR (Pt.541) 1569 at 1589, Ezerebo V. Ehindero (2009) 10 NWLR (Pt.1148) 126 at 176.

Learned senior counsel further submitted that the court is established to determine live issues but not dead ones. He urged the court to hold that the appeal has become academic outside the jurisdiction of this court hence it should be dismissed.

Furthermore, learned senior counsel contended that the continuous prosecution of this appeal by the appellants despite the available undisputed facts, and having been overtaken by events constitute a gross abuse of judicial process. He relied on Abubakar V. Bebeji Oil & Allied Products Ltd. (2007) ALL FWLR (Pt.362) 1855 at 1902. Okoreaffia V. Agwu (2008) ALL FWLR (Pt. 445) 1601 at 1623. He submitted that the appellants have consistently abused the court process by remaining obstinate to the orders of court which have consistently held that the matter is dead and cannot be resurrected. To act otherwise, he stated, will be unconstitutional and unlawful with respect to the provisions of section 285 (6) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). He relied on Hope Democratic Party (HDP) V. Peter Obi (2011) 18 NWLR (Pt.1278) 80 at 100-111.

On the relief that judgment be entered for the appellants against the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Respondents as contained in the Notice & Grounds of Appeal, he submitted that this court has no jurisdiction to do so. Learned senior counsel submitted that as at the time the appellants filed their motion for judgment in 2012, the 180 days has elapsed.

He urged the court to uphold the preliminary objection and dismiss the appeal.

Learned Senior Counsel for the 1st Respondent Mr. Dodo fully and wholly adopted the submissions of the learned senior counsel to the 3rd Respondent on his preliminary objection.

He said one would have thought that after the decision of this court even last Friday, 01/6/2012 in appeal No. SC.154/2012 on a similar matter, the appellants would have just come to withdraw their matter. He contended that there is nothing new to urge in this court than urge the court to dismiss the appeal.

Chief Ashiekaa of counsel to the 2nd Respondent referred to his Notice of preliminary objection filed on 21/5/2012. He stated that his objection is the same as raised by the 3rd Respondent. He adopted the preliminary objection in its entirety and the submission of learned senior counsel to the 3rd Respondent on same. He referred to the 2nd Respondent’s brief of argument filed on 21/5/2012, adopted and relied on same. He referred to the decision of this court on Akpabio’s case delivered last Friday 1/6/2012 in appeal No.SC.154/2012. He contended that there was no invitation by the appellants herein for this court to depart from its said decision most recently on the same subject and submitted that it is even indeed too late for the appellants to so urge this court for such departure from its decisions. He urged the court to dismiss the appeals for lacking in merits.

Mr. Dodo, SAN before the appellants replied to the Respondents’ arguments on the preliminary objection stood up to adopt his earlier arguments in appeal No.SC.191/2012 for the other appeals, Nos. SC.191A/2012 and SC.192/2012, since he has objection on the said other appeals, so as not to be taken as having waived his right to so argue.

Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu learned senior counsel to the appellants in response to the preliminary objections by the Respondents to the appeals referred to the appellants’ reply brief of argument to the 3rd Respondent’s brief of argument filed within time on 4/6/2012. He adopted and relied on same. He also referred to the appellants reply brief of argument filed on 30/5/2012 in appeal No.SC.191A/2012 in response to the 2nd Respondent’s Preliminary Objection.

Learned senior counsel in his oral argument in response to the Preliminary Objection came up with a question, what is the purport of the preliminary objection He referred to the arguments of the Respondents predicated on the fact that the appellants’ appeal has become academic exercise or an abuse of court process. He asked – Can an abuse of court process occur in the exercise of a constitutional right He answered in the negative, that it cannot be.

He submitted that the court cannot shut out the appellants in the exercise of their constitutional right of appeal. He referred to sections 233 (2), 246 and 285 (7) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) and Saraki V. Kotoye (1992) 11 & 12 SCNJ 26. He contended that the decision striking out the appellants’ petition on 28/2/2012 arose from a concrete and live decision of the tribunal which was affirmed by the court below in the face of the order of this court which directed the petition to be heard on the merits on 14/11/2011, which order has neither been discharged nor set aside by the court. He submitted that the order remained in force till today. Learned senior counsel submitted further that nowhere in section 285(6) of the constitution is the right of appeal abolished or suspended. He stated that even in ANPP V. Goni (supra) this court alluded to that fact. He submitted that all the grounds canvassed by the 3rd Respondent in the preliminary, objection are grossly misconceived, lack substance and should be dismissed outright.

Learned senior counsel referred to ANPP V. Goni (Supra) which is relied on by the Respondents for their Preliminary objections and submitted that as no two cases can ever be the same, the instant appeal is clearly distinguishable from ANPP V. Goni’s case. He contended further that in the instant case, the order of this court that the matter be heard on the merit or denovo means it must be heard by the trial tribunal as if it had never been heard at all. He submitted that as at the time this court ordered rehearing on merit, the 180 days had lapsed and the court was aware of this situation yet it ordered hearing on merit. He cited, Attorney General of Bendel State V. Attorney General of the Federation (1981) 10 SC 112-113 per Eso, JSC.

Learned senior counsel referred to appeal No. SC.191A/2012 and stated that the reliefs therein include giving judgment on the matter by this court. He finally urged the court to overrule the preliminary objection and dismiss same.

Mr. Orpin of counsel to the Appellant stated that he is in neither SC.191/2012 nor SC.191A/2012 but only in SC. 192/2012. He submitted that the appeal was ripe for hearing and he was ready. However, because there was preliminary objection too, to the competence of the same appeal he responded orally, too to the preliminary objection to his appeal.

On the preliminary objection of the 1st Respondent in appeal No. SC.192/2012, he submitted that constitution must not be interpreted to do injustice or give unjust decision. He referred to the Appellants’ reply brief of argument to the 1st respondent’s preliminary objection. He adopted and relied on same to oppose the argument of Respondent’s counsel on the objection. He urged the court to discountenance the preliminary objection and hear the appeal on merit.

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In respect of appeal No.SC.191A/2012, the learned senior counsel to the 1st Respondent Mr. Dodo referred to his Notice of preliminary objection which was filed on 15/5/2012. He adopted and relied on the said Notice.

On the preliminary objection, learned senior counsel urged the court to strike out the appeal for being academic, on the following grounds:

(a) The lower court upheld the 2nd Respondent’s Notice of preliminary objection that the Appellants appeal was academic. (See Page 669 of the record).

(b) The Appellants did not appeal against the decision of the lower court upholding the 2nd Respondent’s Preliminary objection that their appeal at the lower court was academic.

(c) The Lower court only proceeded to pronounce on the merits of the appeal only in the event that the Appellants successfully challenged the decision on the Preliminary Objection before this Honourable court. Before this pronouncing on the substantive appeal, the presiding Justice of the lower court held that: “Assuming I am wrong in my finding above, I will examine the merit of the appeal.”

(d) Having not appealed against the decision of the lower court upholding the preliminary objection that the appeal was academic, the decision remains valid and subsisting and even a favourable determination of the appeal will not affect the said decision.

(e) This appeal is academic and bereft of any rive issue; this Honourable court determines only live issues and not academic issues.

(f) For this Honourable court to assume jurisdiction to hear this appeal, the judgment of the lower court that the appeal which gave rise to this appeal is academic must first be set aside.

(g) Relief (iii), (iv) and (v) sought in this appeal by the Notice of Appeal cannot be granted even if all the issues raised by the Appellants are resolved in their favour, the jurisdiction of the trial tribunal to hear the petition having lapsed since November, 2011, as held by the decision of the lower court in its decision on the 2nd Respondent’s Preliminary Objection.

(h) The Honourable court should not be made to act in vain. As stated earlier, learned senior counsel to the appellants, Mr. Akeredolu referred to the Appellants’ reply brief of argument to the 2nd Respondent’s brief of argument, in particular, to oppose the preliminary objection.

The said reply brief of argument was adopted and relied on in Response to the objection. In the said reply brief it was contended that the most curious arm of the objection is that inviting this Honourable court to decline to adjudicate on this appeal on the ground that the petition giving rise to it was struck out on 28/2/2012, thereby rendering this appeal an academic exercise.

The appellants contended that the principal reason for launching this appeal is to challenge the erroneous decision of the tribunal and the affirmation of the said decision by the court below. The 2nd Respondent is fully aware of the existence of an appeal against the striking out of the petition on 28/2/2012 by the tribunal despite the subsisting and competent order of this Honourable court directing the petition to be heard on the merits. The Appellants asked, when has the trial tribunal acquired the jurisdiction to review and set aside an order of the Supreme Court, which is final

It was submitted that even on the basis of the subsisting order of the Supreme Court issued on 14/11/2011 in Appeal No. SC.360/2011 alone, this appeal cannot be justifiably described as an academic exercise as it cannot be doubted that there is no application to set it aside or discharge the said order. He cited couple of cases, including Amoda v. Oshobajo (1984) 15 NWLR (Pt. 646) 557 at 568. ANPP V. Goni (2012) 7 NWLR (Pt. 1298) 147 at 184.

The appellants adopted and relied on their argument in response to the Preliminary Objection of 2nd and 3rd Respondents respectively on appeal No. SC.191/2012 and urged the court to dismiss the objection and hear the appeal on merit.

Mrs Ter of Counsel to the 3rd Respondent associated herself with the Learned Senior Counsel to the 1st Respondent in appeal No. SC.192/2012. She stated that she adopted and relied on the submission of the learned Senior Counsel to urge the court to dismiss appeal No.SC.192/2012.

As earlier stated, the appeal is against the decision of the Court below in an interlocutory appeal filed against the decision of the trial Tribunal which dismissed their petition. The Respondents are however objecting to the competence of the appeal before this court. The crux of the Respondent’s objection is the provisions of section 285 (6) of the 1999 constitution (as amended). Whether the order of this court made on 14/11/2011 for hearing of their petitions on merit has the capacity to enable the Tribunal proceed to hearing beyond the time prescribed or stipulated in the said constitutional provision.

Ordinarily, it is the contention of the appellants herein that with the order of this court directing the hearing of their petitions de novo, time should not run against them. Whereas the Tribunal in agreeing with the Respondents held a different view. The tribunal believed that time began to run from the filing of the petition and does not stop for one second until it runs out. Hence, at the expiration of 180 days from the time the appellant’s petitions were filed, the petitions were struck out with affluxion of time notwithstanding the order of this court for hearing on merit.

What then does section 285 (6) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) say It reads:

“An election tribunal shall deliver its judgment in writing within 180 days from the date of the filing of the Petition.”

There is no doubt and there is no dispute that the Appellants’ petition No. GET/BN/02/2011 was filed on 17/05/2011.

Similarly, it stands to reason that the prescribed 180 days within which the tribunal had to deliver its judgment started to run from that 17/5/2011. (See pages 1-131 of Vol. 1 of the Record of Appeal).

Ordinarily, arising from the provisions of the Constitution stated above, the tribunal in the instant case was expected to deliver its judgment on the Appellants’ petition filed on 17/05/2011, latest on the 180th day from the 17/5/2011 when their petition was filed. There is therefore no gainsaying that if judgment of the tribunal on the said petition was not delivered within 180 days from 17/5/2011, the petition would have lapsed and no longer viable.

However, the uniqueness of the case instant is that, before the expiration of the prescribed 180 days the petitioners left the Tribunal for a higher court to challenge an interlocutory decision of the tribunal. This challenge the petitioners fought up to the Supreme Court where the bulk stops.

No one was in doubt that since the petitioners left the Tribunal for the court below and until they got to this court, they knew that their petition was still fresh and was waiting for attention at the Tribunal. At the conclusion of hearing of the issue taken up at this court, the directive was on 14/11/2011 given that the Petition must be heard on merit.

Ordinarily, by simple calculation of time by days from 17/5/2011 it was 180 days on 12/11/2011 in which case by that time as required and with ordinary interpretation of section 285 (6) of the 1999 constitution (supra) the Tribunal was expected to have delivered its judgment on the appellants petition before it. But on Monday the 14th November, 2011 this court allowed the appeal of the instant Appellants and directed that the matter before the Tribunal should be heard on merit.

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Before I proceed further with this ruling, it must be pointed out once again as it had been so pointed out by this court and the court below whenever the need had arisen that an election matter is sui generis. That is, “of its own kind or class”. In other words, an election matter is unique and peculiar, different from other civil matters. Hence it should be handled specially. See; Eghareuba V. Eribo & Ors (2010) 9 SCM 121.

Now to section 285 (6) of the constitution (supra), the provision as stated above is clear and unambiguous. It does not require any special way of interpretation. It requires the election tribunal to deliver its final judgment in writing within 180 days from the date of the filing of the petition. This court has in couple of cases dealt with this section of the constitution, the most recent ones being the consolidated case of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) V. Alhaji Mohammed Goni & ors (2012) 7 NWLR (Pt.1298) 147, and Senator john Akpanudoedehe V. Godswill Obot Akpabio (Unreported) appeal No. SC.154/2012 delivered on 01/06/2012.

In the ANPP V. Goni (supra) delivered on 17/2/2012 this court had finally once again stated that no one, not even this court by any means, can extend, expand or elongate the 180 days prescribed by the constitution within which an election Tribunal has to deliver judgment on any petition before it.

The learned Senior Counsel to the Appellants had argued and admirably too, that the provisions of section 36 of the 1999 Constitution is sacrosanct and should be so handled in relation to Section 285 (6) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) which seems to be violating the constitutional right to fair hearing.

I must say clearly, that there is no violation and no conflict between section 36 and Section 285 (6) of the Constitution (as amended). There cannot be strict application or interpretation of section 285 (6) to now breach or violate or trample on the constitutional right of an individual to fair hearing.

It is note-worthy that Section 285 (6) of the Constitution original has four (4) subsections but when amended, four new subsections (5), (6), (7) and (8) are added. The first three subsections, 5, 6, and 7 prescribe time limit within which certain actions must be taken and concluded. They read thus:

Section 285,

“(5) An election petition shall be filed within 21 days after the date of the declaration of result of the election;

(6) An election tribunal shall deliver its judgment in writing within 180 days from the date of the filing of the petition;

(7) An appeal from a decision of an election tribunal or Court of Appeal in an election matter shall be heard and disposed of within 60 days from the date of the delivery of judgment of the tribunal or Court of Appeal.”

As clearly indicated in each of the subsection of section 285 of 1999 constitution (as amended), each of them has specific days for specific events. In sub-section 5, an election petition must be filed within 21 days after the date of the declaration of result of the election being challenged. Subsection 7 says an appeal from a decision of an election tribunal or Court of Appeal in an election matter shall be heard and disposed of within 60 days from the date of delivery of judgment of the tribunal or court of Appeal.”

But a close look at subsection 6 to Section 285 reveals that “tribunal shall deliver its judgment in writing within 180 days from the date of the filing of the petition” There is no requirement that the petition filed before the tribunal must be heard before a judgment can be delivered within 180 days. In other words, a petition needs not be heard before the tribunal delivers its judgment which of course does not have to be a final judgment as the two convey different meanings.

“A judgment is a court’s final determination of the rights and obligations of the parties in a case. The term judgment includes an equitable decree and any order from which an appeal lies.” Whereas, “final judgment is a court’s last action that settles the rights of the parties and disposes of all issues in controversy, except for the award of costs and enforcement of the judgment.” See; Black’s Law Dictionary, Ninth Edition pages 918 and 919.

Therefore, in compliance with the provisions of section 285 (6) of the constitution (supra), once an election tribunal gives an appellable decision or makes an order within 180 days and an aggrieved party appeals, it is my firm view that time continues to run until the 180 days shall be exhausted. An appellate court does not have the jurisdiction to extend or enlarge the 180 days once it expires.

However, one thing is certain and not disputable, an appellate court, when an appeal succeeds within the time prescribed is competent to order retrial or hearing denovo. But certainly not after the time prescribed has lapsed or expired. Any such order or directive when the main substratum, such as, petition before the tribunal has ceased to exist having been either struck out or dismissed by the trial court becomes a nullity and will have no effect whatsoever.

It has been decided in Plethora of cases by this court that jurisdiction of courts is granted by statute or Constitution but not by courts. In which case, no court shall have jurisdiction to go beyond the provisions of the enabling law. Otherwise, it will be ultra vires.

My Lords, the courts are created and empowered to adjudicate on cases, applying the law as it is but certainly not as it ought to be. That is a function of yet another arm of the government. The law is made by and for man, not man for law. If a law made by the people for the people is creating hardship for the people, let the people sit down and do something about it, through its Law makers. It is not for the court in performing its function of interpreting that law to alter or amend it.

If it must be said once again, the interpretation this court has given to the provisions of Section 285 (6) of the Constitution has not in any way violated or breached the provisions of either Sections 36, 243 or 246 of the 1999 Constitution. Fair hearing does not only mean that a person must be given oral hearing.

In the final analysis, it is clear that considering this appeal will not lead to any useful result. Indeed, having been aware that their petition before the Tribunal has ceased to exist, having been struck out by the tribunal, the appeal is not only an academic exercise but is an abuse of court process, to say the least.

We have no reason whatsoever to depart from our decision on this section 285 (6) of the Constitution (as amended) in ANPP V. Goni (supra).

The preliminary objections raised by the Respondents in the three appeals No.SC.191/2012, SC.191A/2012 and SC.192/2012 based on the same decision of the trial tribunal succeed and it is allowed. As a result, the appeals above mentioned are liable to dismissal. Accordingly, each appeal is dismissed for being an academic exercise and an abuse of court process, to say the least.

There is no order as to costs.


OC.191/2012 (CONSOLIDATED)

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