The earlier dismissal of an appeal filed by GTBank against a N2.4 billion judgment given in favour of Innoson Motors Nigeria Limited by the Court of Appeal in Ibadan, Oyo State, has been reversed by the Supreme Court of Nigeria..
The Supreme Court had on February 27, 2019 dismissed an appeal by GTBank challenging the judgement of the Court of Appeal, sitting in Ibadan, for lack of diligent prosecution.
A Supreme Court panel of five judges led by Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, on Friday, held unanimously that the Supreme Court erred when, in a ruling on February 27, 2019, it dismissed the appeal marked SC/694/2014 filed by GTB.
The lead judgment, written by Justice Tijani Abubakar but read by Justice Abdu Aboki, held that the Supreme court was misled by its Registry, which failed to promptly bring to the notice of the panel, that sat on the case on February 27, 2019, that GTB had already filed its appellant’s brief of argument.
GTB had applied to the Supreme Court to re-list the appeal on the grounds that it was wrongly dismissed.
Relying on Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court’s Rules, Justice Abubakar, in the lead judgment, held that the apex court has the power to set aside its decision in certain circumstances, like any other court.
The circumstances, Justice Abubakar noted, include where there is any reason to do so, where any of the parties obtained judgment by fraud or deceit, where such a decision is a nullity or where it is obvious that the court was misled into giving a decision
The learned jurist held that the circumstances of the GTB case fell into the category of the rare cases where the Supreme Court could amend or alter its own order on the grounds that the said order or judgment did not present what it intended to record.
“I am convinced that at the material time that the appellant’s appeal was inadvertently dismissed by this court, there was a valid and subsisting brief of argument filed by the applicant. It will be unjust to visit the sin of the court’s Registry on an innocent, vigilant, proactive and diligent litigant.
“The order dismissing the appeal was, therefore, made in error. It ought not to have been made, if all materials were disclosed. The application is, therefore, meritorious and hereby succeeds,” he said.
In setting aside the Supreme Court’s ruling of February 27, 2019 dismissing GTB’s appeal, the court ordered that the appeal marked 694/2014 be re-listed “to constitute an integral part of the business of this court until its hearing and determination on the merit.”