⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Attorney-General Of The Federation & Ors v. The Punch Nigeria Limited & Anor (2019) – SC
- Dismissal of appeal;
- Fair hearing;
- Order to set aside decision;
- Attorney-General of The Federation;
- Inspector-general Of Police;
- Commissioner of Police Lagos State;
- State Security Service;
- Chief of Army Staff;
- The Punch Nigeria Limited;
- Bola Bolawole (EDITOR PUNCH NEWSPAPERS)
(2019) LPELR-47868 (SC)
⦿ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Olukayode Ariwoola, J.S.C.
⦿ LAWYERS WHO ADVOCATED
- FOR THE APPELLANT
- FOR THE RESPONDENT
⦿ FACT (as relating to the issues)
Sometime on 14th June, 1994, the respondents had been granted leave by the Federal High Court, Holden at Lagos to enforce their fundamental rights, pursuant to Section 42(1) and (2) of the 1979 Constitution as amended by Decree No.107 of 1993; Order 1 Rule 2(1), (3) and (6) and Order 4 of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 1979 and under the inherent jurisdiction of the Court as preserved by Section 6(6) of the 1979 Constitution, as amended.
At the end of the day, after the Trial Court heard the application and considering the submissions of learned counsel for the applicants (now respondents), the Court in the judgment ordered as follows:
“1. The applicants are hereby granted Declarations 1, 2 and 3 as contained in the Motion papers filed.
- The respondents, whether themselves or their officers, agents servants, privies or otherwise, howsoever, shall forthwith vacate the business premises of the 1st applicant.
- The respondents, their officers, agents, servants, privies or otherwise howsoever are hereby restrained from continuing to seal up and occupy the business premises of the 1st applicant or in any other manner preventing the applicants from carrying out their lawful business.
- The 1st applicant shall be awarded N25 million (twenty five million Naira) being damages against the respondents for the illegal and unconstitutional sealing up, invasion and subsequent stoppage and/or disruption of lawful activities of the 1st applicant.
- As the 2nd applicant has already been released, prayer on the Motion paper is hereby struck out.
- The 2nd applicant shall be awarded N100,000 (one hundred thousand Naira) being damages for unlawful detention of the 2nd applicant.”
The above were contained in the judgment of the trial Court handed down on 29th July, 1994.
On 10/8/1994, the appellants filed a Notice of Appeal to the Court of Appeal on four grounds of appeal and sought the following relief from the Court of Appeal. “To allow the appeal and set aside the judgment or order of the Federal High Court, Lagos dated 29th July, 1994.”
On 04/6/1999 the respondents filed an application before the Court of Appeal praying for an order dismissing the appeal of the appellants for want of diligent prosecution, as no further step had been taken after the appeal was filed by the appellants. Subsequently, on 21/10/1999, the appellants filed an application before the Court of Appeal for leave to amend their Notice of Appeal, by adding an additional 5th Ground of Appeal in the manner formulated in the proposed Amended Notice of Appeal which was annexed to the application as Exhibit A. On the 18th day of March, 2004, the Court of Appeal considered the respondents’ application and dismissed the appeal for want of prosecution.
Being aggrieved by the Order of the Court below which dismissed the appeal for want of prosecution, the appellants brought an application before the Court below praying for an Order setting aside the Order of dismissal of their appeal made on 18/03/2004.
The application was considered by the Court below and was dismissed with costs to the respondents against the appellants, leading to the instant further appeal with the Notice of Appeal filed on 26/10/2006, on two Grounds of Appeal.
Whether the Court below was right in dismissing the appellants’ application to set aside its ruling dismissing the appellants’ appeal?
⦿ HOLDING & RATIO DECIDENDI
- ISSUE 1 WAS RESOLVED AGAINST THE APPELLANT IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT.
i. As I stated earlier, it is clear that the appeal of the appellants was dismissed pursuant to Order 6 Rule 10 of the Court of Appeal Rules for failure to file the brief of argument within the prescribed time and there was no application for extension of time to file the said brief out of time. The appeal was therefore properly dismissed and the dismissal order is final and irreversible. The Court below no longer had competence or jurisdiction on the appeal, that had become spent by the order of dismissal. The Court below had become functus officio on the matter. It can neither set aside its order nor relist the already dismissed appeal. It is no longer on the cause list of the Court.
⦿ SOME PROVISIONS
Order 6 Rule 2 of the said Rules provide as follows: “The appellant shall within sixty days of the receipt of the record of Appeal from the Court below file in the Court a written brief, being a succinct statement of his argument in appeal.”
Order 6 Rule 10 of the Rules of the Court of Appeal extant rules provides thus: “Where an appellant fails to file his brief within the time provided for in Rule 2 of this order, or within the time as extended by the Court, the respondent may apply to the Court for the appeal to be dismissed for want of prosecution.”
⦿ RELEVANT CASES
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA
An appeal which is dismissed under Order 6 Rule 10 of the Court of Appeal Rules cannot be relisted. This Court held inBabayagi Vs. Bida (Supra) that once an appeal is dismissed under Order 6 Rule 10, the Court of Appeal has no jurisdiction to revive the appeal by re-entering or relisting same. – Ariwoola, J.S.C. AG Federation v. Punch (2019) – SC
When an appeal is dismissed under Order 6 Rule 10 of the Court of Appeal Rules, its life terminates and it is therefore removed from the cause list. No Court has jurisdiction to revive or resuscitate it. – Ariwoola, J.S.C. AG Federation v. Punch (2019) – SC