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APPLICATION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME MUST BE BACKED UP BY GOOD AND SUBSTANTIAL REASONS

Dictum

By the provisions of Order 2 Rule 31 of the Supreme Court Rules both facts in the affidavit, i.e. good and substantial reasons for failure to appeal within the prescribed period; and grounds of appeal which prima facie show good cause why the appeal should be heard must co-exist for the application to succeed. An application for extension of time to appeal would succeed no matter how long after it is brought provided there are good and substantial reasons for the delay. Once a genuine ground on jurisdiction is the reason for the appeal, good and substantial reasons for the delay are no longer necessary.

— O. Rhodes-Vivour, JSC. Francis v. FRN (2020) – SC.810/2014

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MOTION THAT SAVES PROCEEDING SHOULD BE HEARD FIRST

It is a settled principle of practice that where there are two motions before the court requiring to be heard, the interest of justice demands that the motion, the determination of which would save the substantive action, should first be heard. See Abiegbe and 2 ors. v. Ugbodume (1973) 1 ALL NLR 52; (1973) 1 SC 133; Nalsa and Team Associates v. N.N.P.C. (1991) 8 NWLR (Pt. 212) 652 at 676; Long John v. Black (1998) 6 NWLR (Pt. 555) 524 at 550.

— Edozie JCA. United Bank for Africa (UBA) v. Samuel Igelle Ujor (CA/C/134/99, 20 FEB 2001)

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COURT MUST RULE ON ALL APPLICATIONS BEFORE IT

In Ani V. Nna & Ors. (1996) 4 NWLR (Pt.440) 101 @ p. 120, this Court had per Niki Tobi JCA., succinctly observed inter alia thus: “A Court of law and indeed a Court of equity has neither jurisdiction nor discretionary power not to take a process before it, whatever may be its pre-trial opinion on it. The process may be a downright abuse of the judicature as an institution or judicialism. It may be stupid, reckless, irregular, aberrant or unmeritorious; the Court must hear it and rule on it.”

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A TRIBUNAL HAS A LEGAL DUTY TO DECIDE ALL APPLICATIONS FILED BEFORE IT

A court of law or a tribunal has a legal duty in our adjectival law to hear any court process, including a motion before it. The process may be downright stupid, unmeritorious or even an abuse of court process. The court must hear the Party or parties and rule one way or the other. A Judge, whether of a court of law or tribunal, has no jurisdiction to come to a conclusion by resorting to his wisdom outside established due process that a motion cannot be heard because it has no merit. That does not lie in the mouth of a Judge in our adversary system of adjudication. The failure on the part of the learned tribunal to hear the motion of the 1st appellant filed on 1st May 1999 is against the provisions of section 33(1) of the 1979 Constitution on fair hearing, and particularly the natural justice rule of audi alteram partem. See generally Otapo v. Aunmonu (1987) 2 NWLR (Pt.58) 587; Onwumechili v. Akintemi (1985) 3 NWLR (pt. 13)504; Adene v. Dantumbi (1988) 4 NWLR (pt. 88) 309; Olaniyan v. University of Lagos (1985) 2 NWLR (Pt.9) 599; Alfa v. Atanda (1993) 5 NWLR (pt. 296) 729.

— Niki Tobi, JCA. Nnamdi Eriobuna & Ors. V. Ikechukwu Obiorah (CA/E/77/99, 24 May 1999)

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WHERE A MOTION SEEKS TO TERMINATE VS ONE SEEKING TO CURE DEFECT

It is pertinent to observe that there is an order of precedence for hearing motions or applications before the court. Where a motion or application seeks to terminate an action on account of irregularity and the other one seeks to cure the defect, it is the duty of the court to hear the later first see:- Nalsa and Team Associates v. N.N.P.C. (1991) 11 SCNJ 5; Consortium M.C. 3632, Lot 4 Nigeria v. National Electric Power Authority (1991) 7 SCNJ 1.

— Opene JCA. United Bank for Africa (UBA) v. Samuel Igelle Ujor (CA/C/134/99, 20 FEB 2001)

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APPLICATION WITH NO BACKING OF LAW IS AN ABUSE OF PROCESS

An application that has no backing of law would ordinarily seem or appear to be an abuse of Court’s process: R-BENKAY (NIG.) LTD. v. CADBURY (NIG.) LTD. (2012) 3 SC. (pt. 3) 169; (2012) 9 NWLR (pt. 1306) 596. — E. Eko, JSC. Francis v. FRN (2020) – SC.810/2014

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