The Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu on Friday dismissed the preliminary objections brought before it by the Chairman of Innoson Motors, Chief Innocent Chukwuma, and his company, Innoson Motors Limited.
Innoson, arguing through his counsel, Prof. McCarthy Mbadugha, had at the last hearing of the matter on June 14, 2018, raised objections to a motion brought before the court by GTBank seeking to amend its notice of appeal before the court.
Delivering ruling on Friday, Justice Helen Morenikeji Ogunwumiju held that the court would be in serious error if it decides to wait and hear Innoson Motors’s preliminary objection.
Ogunwumiju held: “There is no doubt that the application for amendment of the notice of appeal will, if successful, give the appeal a chance of being considered and disposed-off on the merit rather than on technicalities.
“It is implicit in the constitutional rights of fair hearing that parties in a case be accorded every reasonable opportunity of being heard, and that extends to the right to amend their processes and place before the court all the issues they may wish to canvass to enable the court reach a fair and just conclusion.
“The fact that the respondent counsel raised objections to some of the grounds of appeal is not a bar that can deprive the appellant of the right to amend his notice of appeal.
“The respondent has not argued that the notice of appeal that the appellant is seeking to amend is fundamentally defective.
“He has failed to identify any substantial or legally acceptable reason to support the objection.
“There is no limitation of time to amend a notice of appeal.
“The objection by Innoson is not only frivolous but is vexatious and hereby dismissed.
“This court had at an earlier adjourned date observed that it found it strange that Innoson, a judgment creditor, will be employing all manner of tactics to delay the hearing of the substantive appeal entered in this court as far back as 2013.
“I see no reason to refuse the appellant’s (GTBank) request to amend its notice of appeal.
“Everyone in this judicial drama knows that the substantive appeal must be decided in this court and no matter how much time is wasted.
“The Supreme Court can only hear the substantive matter after it has been decided in this court.
“Without any disrespect to whatever legal gymnastics being displayed by the 1st to 4th Respondents’ (Innoson) Counsel, these are the types of practices that give the Administration of Justice a bad name considering that this case involves money and has been hanging in this court since 2013.
“Considering all the reasons and circumstances set out above, I hold that it is in the interest of Justice that the appellants application be granted in terms of the following orders:
• Leave is granted to the Appellant (GTBank) to raise new issues in this appeal
• Leave is granted to the Appellant (GTBank) to amend its notice of appeal in terms of the particulars and specifics highlighted in its supporting Affidavit
• The amended notice of appeal which has already been filed and served is properly filed and served
• Leave is granted the Appellant (GTBank) to amend its brief of argument to reflect the reliefs granted.”