Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) has turned down the Court of Appeal’s request to retrieve its recently issued certified true copy judgment on the Kano governorship election for alleged errors.
In a strongly worded response on Thursday, Olanipekun faulted the Court of Appeal’s attempt to recall the judgment after providing it to his client and appellant, Abba Kabir Yusuf, on November 21st.
The senior advocate argued that the court became functus officio following expiry of the constitutionally mandated 60-day deadline for election appeals on November 18th.
Olanipekun insisted that any correction application can only be entertained henceforth by the Supreme Court. He warned that withdrawing the judgment will inhibit Yusuf’s right to appeal within 14 days.
The lawyer also countered the claim that parties had applied for rectification of errors, stressing none exists from their end. He reiterated that Court of Appeal is bereft of powers to revisit a case after 60 days lapse.
Sources disclosed Olanipekun’s refusal may indicate substantive discrepancies between the physical copy issued and what was delivered in court. There are suspicions of likely tampering.
Yusuf has rejected the appellate judgment validating Nasiru Gawuna of APC as duly elected Kano governor.
Below is the full text of his letter
WOLE OLANIPEKUN & CO LEGAL PRACTITIONERS WOC/LG/VOL.04/267/2023 23 November 2023
The Deputy Chief Registrar Court of Appeal Kano Judicial Division Kano Attention: Amina Ibrahim (Mrs.)
Dear Deputy Chief Registrar,
RE: RETRIEVAL OF CERTIFIED TRUE COPY OF JUDGMENT IN APPEAL NO: CA/KN/EP/GOV/KAN/34/2023 – ABBA KABIR YUSUF AND ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS & ORS
Your letter dated November 22, 2023, was delivered at our Abuja office late on the same day (November 22, 2023), and was brought to the attention of the undersigned around 10:30 am today, November 23, 2023.
As officers in the Temple of Justice, we believe we owe the institution, as well as the respected Court of Appeal, a duty to highlight and address some very pertinent issues arising out of your said letter, including, but not limited to:
- Timely Disposal of Appeal: The judgment of the lower Tribunal was delivered on 20th September 2023. By the imperative of section 285(7) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the Court of Appeal had only sixty (60) days to “hear and dispose” of the appeal arising from the judgment of the Tribunal. Most humbly, the Constitution applies the word “within” and not ‘from’ the date of “the delivery of the judgment of the Tribunal.”
- Constitutional Mandate: Further to the above, the Court of Appeal, by the same constitutional dictate, had up until Saturday, November 18, 2023, to ‘hear and dispose’ of the appeal filed by our client (the appellant) to the Court of Appeal against the decision of the Governorship Election Tribunal, sitting in Kano. Several judicial precedents of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal itself abound in our Law Reports on this subject, which has now become trite.
- Function of the Court: Assuming without conceding that the judgment has some errors, whether typographical or otherwise, we humbly and dutifully draw your attention to the fact that the Court of Appeal became functus officio in the matter on Saturday, November 18, 2023. Any application for correction of errors can only be entertained by the Supreme Court. Section 285(7) of the Constitution earlier referred to becomes very handy and imperative to the effect that the Court of Appeal cannot take any further step in the appeal or subject after the expiration of sixty (60) days.
- Chief Registrar’s Statement: Further to the foregoing, may we draw your attention to what the Chief Registrar of the Court of Appeal, Mr. Umar Bangari, was quoted to have said by the Channels Television in its news program of 7-8 pm on Wednesday, November 22, 2023, that: “The Chief Registrar of the Court of Appeal Mister Umar Bangari, has cleared the air on the controversies surrounding the judgment delivered by the Court on the Kano Governorship Election dispute. In reaction, Bangari said that what happened in the judgment body was a typo error that did not in any way invalidate or change the findings and conclusion of the Court. The Chief Registrar assures that the error would be rectified once parties in the matter file a formal application to that effect. He cited Order 23 Rule 4 of the Court of Appeal Handbook, which empowers the court to correct any clerical error once detected by the court or any of the parties in the matter.”
- Application for Correction: In the above-quoted excerpts from the interview granted to the Channels Television by the Chief Registrar of the Court of Appeal, the following again becomes very germane “… that the error would be rectified once parties in the matter file a formal application to that effect.” We are not aware that any of the parties has filed any application to correct any error. Even at that, judicial precedents are countless as to the procedure to follow, and which court has jurisdiction to take such an application, after the expiration of the sixty (60) days mandatorily benchmarked by the Constitution.
- Constitutional Right of Appeal: Today is the seventh day, effective from Friday, November 17, 2023, since the delivery of the judgment of the Court of Appeal. We repeat that, out of the fourteen days mandatorily prescribed for our client to file his Notice and Grounds of Appeal to the Supreme Court, he is left with just seven (7) days; and it is only fair that he should be allowed to exercise his constitutional right of appeal without any inhibition, within the fraction of days left for him.
We reiterate that this response has been borne out of a compelling duty and responsibility to the administration of justice, and, as counsel, it is our responsibility to draw attention to these salient statutory imperatives.
PP: Wole Olanipekun & Co.
Chief Wole Olanipekun, CFR, SAN
WOLE OLANIPEKUN & CO LEGAL PRACTITIONERS
Cc: The 1st Respondent, All Progressives Congress The 2nd Respondent, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) The 3rd Respondent, New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP)
The Nigeria Lawyer recalls that the Court of Appeal in Kano retrieved a certified true copy of a recent judgment it had issued to senior lawyer Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) for review and correction.
Authoritative sources at the appellate court revealed that the judgment in Appeal No. CA/KN/EP/GOV/KAN/34/2023 between Abba Kabir Yusuf and the All Progressives Congress (APC) & others had typographical errors.
In a letter dated November 22, 2023, signed by Deputy Chief Registrar Amina Ibrahim, the court referred to Olanipekun’s law firm’s November 17 request for the judgment’s certified true copy, which was promptly issued on November 21.
Our correspondent gathered that upon discovering the errors, the court requested the return of the judgment copy from Olanipekun’s law office to enable rectification before reissuing an updated version.
When contacted, a top official of the law practice confirmed the receipt of the court’s letter but declined to make extensive comments regarding the corrections.
Credit: The Nigeria Lawyer