The Supreme Court has reversed its earlier dismissal of an appeal 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.
In a judgment delivered on Friday, a five-man panel, led by Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, 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.
In the lead judgment, written by Justice Tijani Abubakar but read by Justice Abdu Aboki, the apex court held that it 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.
The judgment was on an application by GTB seeking the re-listing of the appeal on the grounds that it was wrongly dismissed.
The Supreme Court noted that had the panel that sat on the case on February 27, 2019 been notified of the existence of the appellant’s brief of argument, it would not have dismissed GTB’s appeal for lack of diligent prosecution.
Relying on Order 8 Rules 16 of the Supreme Court Rules, the apex court held that it has the power to set aside its decision in certain circumstances, like any other court.
According to the panel, some of the circumstances to do so includes when the parties obtained judgment by fraud, default or deceit; where such a decision is a nullity or where it is obvious that the court was misled into giving a decision.
“I am convinced that at the material time that the appellant’s appeal was inadvertently dismissed by this court, there was in place, a valid and subsisting brief of argument filed by the applicant,” the court held.
“It will be unjust to visit the sin of the court’s Registry on an innocent, vigilant, proactive and diligent litigant.
“It is obvious from the material before us, that there were errors committed by the Registry of this court, having failed to bring to the notice of the panel of Justices that sat in chambers on the 27th February 2019 that the appellant had indeed filed its brief of argument.
“This is a case deserving of positive consideration by this court.
“Having gone through all the materials in this application, therefore, I am satisfied that the appellant/applicant’s brief of argument was filed before the order of this court made on the 27th of February 2019 dismissing the applicant’s appeal.
“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.”
The court then set aside its previous ruling and ordered that the appeal marked: SC/694/2014 “be relisted to constitute an integral part of the business of this court until its hearing and determination on the merit