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Yusuf vs. Obasanjo

ALHAJI MOHAMMED DIKKO YUSUF

MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRACY AND

JUSTICE (MDJ)

V

CHIEF OLUSEGUN AREMU OKIKIOLA OBASANJO & 56 ORS.

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

SALIHU MODIBBO ALFA BELGORE, JSC ( Presided )

IDRIS LEGBO KUTIGI, JSC

ALOYSIUS IYORGYER KATSINA-ALU, JSC

SAMSON ODEMWINGIE UWAIFO, JSC

NIKI TOBI, JSC ( Read the Lead Judgment )

DENNIS ONYEJIFE EDOZIE, JSC

IGNATIUS CHUKUDI PATS-ACHOLONU, JSC

SC. 122/2003

THURSDAY, 9TH OCTOBER, 2003

COURT - Court dealing with a matter where a statute prescribes a time frame for a party to do an act but is silent on consequence of court’s delay in hearing the matter - Need for to adopt a liberal attitude and avoid technicality

COURT - Litigants - Whether should be made to suffer for sins of the tribunal or court

COURT - Supreme Court - Power to invoke section 22 of the Supreme Court Act in appropriate cases in determining questions in controversy in an appeal

COURT - Supreme Court - What it considers in invoking section 22 of the Supreme Court Act

ELECTORAL MATTERS - Electoral Act, 2002 - Paragraph 50 of the First Schedule thereto - The words ‘subject to’ in the context thereof - Meaning and effect of

INTERPRETATION OF STATUTE - Electoral Act, 2002 - Paragraph 50  of the First Schedule thereto - The words ‘subject to’ in the context thereof - Meaning and effect of

LEGISLATION - Legal drafting - Drafting of bills - Legal draftsman referring to a non-existent provision in a statute - Need for to accept responsibility therefor - Duty of legal draftsman to be careful in drafting of bills

PARTIES - Joinder of parties - Corporate Nigeria (Limited by Guarantee) - Whether can be joined as a party in the instant petition

PARTIES - Party - Whether can dictate to the court a date for the hearing of his application

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Amendment of proceedings -  Basic principles guiding

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Leave to amend proceedings -

Principle governing grant of

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Litigants - Whether should be made to suffer for sins of the tribunal or court

STATUTE - Electoral Act, 2002 - Paragraph 50 of the First Schedule thereto - The words ‘subject to’ in the context thereof - Meaning and effect of

STATUTE - Statute prescribing a time frame for a party to do an act but is silent on consequence of court’s delay thereto - Court dealing with a matter therein - Need for to adopt a liberal attitude and avoid technicality

STATUTE - Supreme Court Act, section 22 - Power of the Supreme Court to invoke same in appropriate cases in determining questions in controversy in an appeal

STATUTE - Supreme Court Act, section 22 - What the Supreme Court considers in invoking same

WORDS AND PHRASES - The words ‘subject to’ in a statute - Meaning and effect of

Issue:

Whether the Court of Appeal misdirected itself on the applicable law and should have granted the prayer for joinder of 57th respondent and/or any of the amendments Nos (1), (2), (4), (5), (11), (13), (15) & 17 sought in the motion dated 21st May, 2003 and determined in their Lordships’ ruling of 5th June, 2003.

Facts:

This is an interlocutory appeal arising from the ruling delivered on 5th June 2003 by the Presidential Election Tribunal, that is, the full panel of the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja in respect of an application on notice by the petitioners for the amendment of their presidential election petition.

On 19th April, 2003, a presidential election was conducted nationwide the results of which were announced on 22nd April, 2003 declaring as the winner the 1st respondent, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Thereupon the 1st, appellant, a candidate at the election and the 2nd appellant, the political party that sponsored him, as petitioners, on 2nd May 2003, filed before the Election Tribunal, that is, the Court of Appeal, Abuja, a petition against the 1 st respondent and 56 others challenging the conduct and result of the election. On 21st day of May, 2003, the petitioners/appellants filed a motion on notice before the Court of Appeal, Abuja seeking, inter alia, to amend their petition of 2nd May 2003, so as to join Corporate Nigeria (Limited by Guarantee) as the 57th respondent in the petition and also effect some amendments to some of the paragraphs of the petition. In all, nineteen amendments were proposed as itemised on the motion paper. The motion which was said to have been brought pursuant to the Electoral Act 2002, Order 12, rules 3 and 16  and Order 27, rules 2 and 5 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure ) Rules, 2002 and the inherent jurisdiction of the court was supported by an affidavit of 18 paragraphs. It was moved and argued on 28th May, 2003 and ruling reserved to 5th June, 2003 when it was delivered. In the said ruling, the lower court granted some of the amendments, that is, prayers 3, 6, 7, 9, 16  and 19 while it refused prayers 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17 and 18 . It is in respect of some of the paragraphs refused that the petitioners as appellants have lodged the instant appeal.